Bites Rolls Out Barrel-Aged Coffee

Writer  /  Janelle Morrison
Photographer  /  JJ Kaplan

The ever-popular local coffee and dessert bar Bites by Confectioneiress has been serving their delicious and creative concoctions for just over a year now. While maintaining a successful collaboration with local coffee roaster Julian Coffee Roasters and blending their own loose-leaf teas, Victor Gosnell, co-owner of Bites by Confectioneiress, is proud to introduce his latest endeavor, Cask Coffee Company.

Gosnell is well-known for his small batch coffees at Bites. With the introduction of Cask Coffee, he has taken pre-roasted or a “green” coffee bean, aged them in five types of barrels and has created his own brand of barrel-aged coffee beans. The coffee beans age in the barrels for two to four weeks, depending on the type of barrel and how fresh the barrel is. Gosnell first purchased a rum barrel earlier in the year and aged a single origin coffee in that barrel for a few weeks. He was pleased with the results of that trial, as were the customers who sampled the rum barrel-aged coffee.“We have also produced some bourbon barrel-aged coffee using Julian Coffee Roasters, so we were excited to test a rum barrel and compare the end product to the beans aged in a bourbon barrel,” Gosnell explained. “Soon after, we contacted a barrel broker that imports barrels from all over the world. We selected five different barrel types: bourbon, rum, tequila, red wine and white wine barrels. They come in freshly dumped, so that the insides of the barrels are still saturated and smell super intense.

“The tequila barrel is my favorite. It is an incredibly old barrel, aged with 100% Blue Agave tequila and aged tequila for decades. The wine barrels are new oak, un-charred. The bourbon barrel is new oak and charred. The rum and tequila barrels are generally used for aging something else before they are used for aging rum and tequila. For instance, my barrels were used to age bourbon. We’ve picked different single-origin coffees that we think will pair really well with each barrel type.

“I’ve aged a Sumatra with a bourbon barrel. It is a medium roast that is a little bit smoky and is complemented by the bourbon. We wanted to go with a South American approach for the rum barrel, and so we used an Ojo de Agua from a farm in Honduras. We’re aging a Papau New Guinea in the red wine barrel, and with the white wine, we wanted to something a little more mild. We’ve aged a nice bright Guatemala Ceylan estate in that barrel. Finally, in our tequila barrel, we’ve aged an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe that boasts bright lime notes and hints of cherry. I am most excited about that one.”

Gosnell enjoys the art of mixology and likes to mimic classic cocktail recipes and flavors then transform them into a craft or specialty coffee. There are few coffee proprietors in the greater metropolitan area who are specializing in the barrel-aging trend, and those that exist may offer only one or two barrel types. Gosnell has launched Cask Coffee with the purpose to offer a greater variety of specialty coffees and is already working on future products and developing different concepts.

Available for purchase now, customers can enjoy Cask Coffee whole bean coffees and glass bottled brews in two sizes that are available at Bites by Confectioneiress. They will feature their brews on their brew bar and cold brew taps from time to time. Coffee aficionados can also find Cask Coffee at the Farmer’s Market at the Indiana State Museum and at Vine and Table in Carmel.

“We are focusing on going mainstream with our Cask Coffee brand, but it will remain locally produced,” Gosnell emphasized. “It is a niche brand, and we want to make it more affordable than some of the other barrel-aged coffees that are available in the market. However, we’re not looking to become a juggernaut coffee brand. We want to keep it local and keep a high quality level of production. Next year, we want to expand our barrel selection and increase our varieties.”

Gosnell is also working on a product line using repurposed barrels once they have been retired. He will offer creative, functional and artistic pieces from the barrels and lids.

These products will be available for sale at Bites along with the Cask Coffee products. Gosnell and his staff will be posting tasting events for their customers and anyone interested in trying out the barrel-aged coffees.

For more information about Bites, Cask Coffee and store events, please contact the store at 317-873-1001 or follow them on Facebook at Bites by Confectioneiress.