Do you want to step up your game by choosing the best coffee for Irish coffee? This article explores what makes for a truly flawless Irish coffee.
Irish coffee is a classic cocktail and a decadent pleasure for coffee lovers everywhere. The perfect balance between sharp, smoky whiskey, smooth cream, and intense coffee, getting it just right is a matter of both technique and ingredients. When it comes to coffee, particular traits will give you a better experience, and it’s a good idea to learn what to look for.
So what are the traits in the best coffee for Irish coffee? Read on to find out!
What Makes Irish Coffee Special?
In order to know what you should seek out in the coffee beans for your Irish coffee, it’s a good idea to dig into what makes Irish coffee special. After all, it’s not just a whiskey shot with brewed coffee; the layered cocktail relies on a careful balance of components. A classic Irish coffee has whiskey, sugar, and hot coffee stirred together before cream (generally thickened slightly by hand-whipping) is layered on top.
So you’ll want a coffee that can stand up to the cream, the sugar, and the whiskey, keeping its own character as well as blending with the other flavors. If you like Irish coffee, you might be interested in learning how to make a White Russian without coffee liqueur.
What To Look For In Beans For Irish Coffee
When it comes to ensuring Irish coffee excellence, you want to seek out a few specific traits in the coffee itself. As mentioned before, it has to stand up to the other robust flavors and the sugar, so seek out a darker roast with low acidity.
Region-wise, I tend to favor Indonesian and African coffees. However, some Latin American blends also perform well, mingling with the whiskey and cream while remaining distinct in flavor.
Indonesian coffees tend to have an earthy, smoky aroma that interacts well with the dominant flavors in whiskey. African dark roast coffees often have a brighter acidity–especially Kenyan coffees–but the sweetness that they also tend to have built-in helps to avoid any sour flavors. For Latin American coffees, Guatemalan and Mexican beans are–for me–the best options.
Now that we’ve outlined what we’re looking for generally, it’s time to get to some specifics.
Best Coffee For Irish Coffee: My Picks
Of course, all coffee preferences are subjective. Still, if you’re looking for the perfect coffee for Irish coffee (or even for coffee-based cocktails in general), you’ll want something that has an assertive character and not too much acidity. Starting from Indonesian coffees with their tendency towards the same flavors that you find in a good whiskey–malty, earthy, smoky–and working your way through Latin American and African coffees will give you a good sampling to make your own choices.
Copper Moon Sumatra Blend: Sumatran coffees make for a delicious Irish coffee, with plenty of character and strong, bold flavor to stand up to the other components. This blend by Copper Moon combines smoky, earthy tones with a faint touch of almonds that harmonize well with the sugar, whiskey, and cream that go into a perfect Irish coffee. The cream softens some of the sharp edges of the dark, bold roast, and the whiskey really makes the flavors sing–giving you a chord of flavors rather than separate notes.
Kicking Horse Coffee Grizzly Claw: While some Central and South American coffees can have pretty strong acidity, this blend balances that tendency to get a result with rich, chocolatey notes mingled with hazelnut and caramel. The smoothness and sweet flavor of the beans turn Irish coffee into a real treat, and the company’s commitment to fair trade, organic, and sustainable practices makes it a responsible buy as well.
Fresh Roasted Coffee Kenya AA: While Kenyan coffees tend to be a little higher in acidity compared to Indonesian beans, the bright notes of lime and peach in this specialty roast pair well with a solid Irish whiskey standby like Jameson. The brown sugar flavor blends well with the other components in your cocktail, too. It’s a less common choice for Irish coffee, but it’s definitely a gamble that pays off.