It’s no secret that the craft trend has swept the beer and coffee industry. Trying locally brewed beer or artisanal-roasted, single-origin, fair-trade coffee has become the preferred hobby of choice among adventurous customers young and old, hipsters and mainstream adherents. But somehow, John Speights and Jason Maranhao carved out a unique niche in this saturated scene. They own Cooper’s Cask Coffee, the only barrel-aged coffee roasters in the state of Rhode Island.
What’s barrel-aged coffee? Well, the concept is pretty simple, actually. John and Jason buy wet spirit barrels (bourbon, whiskey, rum) and they put green, unroasted coffee beans in the barrel to age and soak up the properties of both the spirit and the wood for about 30-40 days. Once the beans have had enough time to marinate, they’re removed from the barrels and roasted at 400 degrees Fahrenheit – a key step that eviscerates the alcohol and leaves the sharp, sweet, non-alcoholic properties left in the product. From there, beans are ground and packaged.
Jason and John were coworkers long before they decided to go into business together. The two got the idea for this project when John was ordering “random” coffee in 2014 and he stumbled upon a brand that was barrel aged. When he tried it, he was unsatisfied, and he thought that he could create a coffee that was much better. So, he contacted an old high school friend, the owner of Sons of Liberty, and got an empty “Uprising” whiskey barrel and the experimenting began. By 2016, their business was fully formed.
What sets John and Jason’s product apart is the bean. The two buy quality products and they don’t cut corners during their roasting process. Says John, “I think it comes down to the quality of the bean, and I think that’s where a lot of people who do this come up a little bit short. They look at the price of the cost of making the product and you have to buy the barrel, and the space to age it and all this stuff. So they kind of skimp a little on the bean.” The two get their beans from single-origin farms in places like Kenya, Ethiopia, Colombia, Rwanda, and South America.
The other thing that makes for superb sipping is the depth of flavor Cooper’s Cask creates with the roasting process. Unlike many flavored coffees that have chemical additives (fake flavors), you can taste and smell the authenticity of the whiskey flavor coming through the product when it’s brewed. Jason says it’s like tasting the difference between blueberry flavoring and a real blueberry.
Today, the biggest problem Cooper’s Cask faces is their rapid expansion. The East Greenwich company is on their third space in three years with no sign of slowing down. The owners remarked that they’re focused on keeping up with production and expanding into regular, organic single-origin coffee. Find Cooper’s Cask Coffee on Amazon or order off of their website.
Cooper’s Cask Coffee
2240 South County Trail Suite 5, East Greenwich • 388-0518