Josh Schmitt, who owns the Bradenton coffee roasting business Banyan Coffee Co. with his wife, Abbey, is not a fan of most flavored coffees. "Specialty coffee doesn't need any additives," he says.
But that doesn't mean he's averse to trying new ways to expand the flavors customers can get from Banyan beans. In that spirit, Banyan has begun selling coffee beans aged in barrels that were used to make bourbon, rye, rum, tequila and wine.
"This is as close as I'm going to do to a flavored coffee," says Schmitt.
To make the beans, Schmitt takes barrels from distilleries around Florida, drains them and packs them with green, un-roasted coffee beans that then sit for anywhere from two weeks to two months. The bean is "like a sponge," says Schmitt. "It will absorb what's in there."
After the beans have sat for the right amount of time, Schmitt fires up his roaster and finishes them off. The resulting flavors vary depending on the type of barrel and how long the beans have been aged. A bourbon barrel bag, for example, will carry the aroma of oak and vanilla, according to Schmitt, while a wine barrel bag will be sweeter, but also oaky.
Banyan is currently getting barrels from distillers like Loaded Cannon Distillery in Lakewood Ranch, Sugar Works Distillery in New Smyrna Beach and Florida Cane Distillery in Tampa. Schmitt says the coffees don't have to be an "everyday drinker," but are instead more of a "novelty," something you might enjoy on the weekends when you've got more time to savor a cup, or something fun to share with friends at your next get-together. Schmitt says sales of the specialty beans spike around the holidays, when people are indulging more and looking for gifts for friends and family.
The company offers free home delivery in the area and sets up at the Downtown Bradenton Public Market every Saturday. Schmitt says Banyan is working on establishing a permanent location that will include both a coffee shop and a roasting facility, but no details have been finalized.
"We are looking to open a coffee shop," says Schmitt. "It's just a matter of when."
For more info, visit the Banyan Coffee Co. website.