I love bitters!
There I said it. I love beer, tonic, dark chocolate and most of all grapefruit.
That doesn't mean I like my coffee dark and roasty. When coffee is roasted too dark the bitterness takes over the taste game and is then the only flavor that can be perceived. Bitterness wants to be the boss and if you dont treat it right, it'll chase all your lovely players like sweetness and acidity away. Especially with coffee!
So when I say I love bitters, I mean the positive ones that create balance in your team of tastes.
Sweetness and acidity are pleasant team mates, easy to get along with taste wise and so likeable. But they are plain boring if you don't pair them up with a strong character like bitterness.
I realized this while I was finalizing my signature drink for the London Coffee Masters competition. Making a coffee drink these days you notice that the light roast extracted beans don't have what it takes to balance out the sweet and acidic ingredients in your drink. If you choose an interesting aromatic specialty coffee, you won't find the heaviness or the roast aromas you might need as bitter part. Instead these coffees will add up to complexity, sweetness and diversity in aromas which is just as important.
But what about the depth, the balance, the aftertase, the finishing curtain of a complex drink?
The solution is: bring bitterness back by infusing your own bitters.
Yes, instead of using roasty coffee that contains bad roast aromas that remind me of charcoal and rubber, I created fluid balancing agents for my drinks made from ingredients that produce positive bitters: citric zest, oregon grape root, dandelion leaf, to name a few.
It' s simple:
You will need
100% alcohol (or plain vodka)
bittering agents (e.g. oregon grape root, chinchona bark and many more. Just ask your local pharmacy for homeopathy)
sweetening agents (e.g. dried fruits, coffee beans or fresh fruit)
aromatic agents (e.g. fresh herbs, flowers)
Place all your ingredients in separate jars. This way you'll have best control over the flavor you want to create in the end. Shake them once a day. Your ingredients might extract differently, varying from 3 to 21 days. Best way to know when the infusion is done: by overwhelming smell. Combine the bitters from the separate jars as you wish and let your taste buds decide.
Don't be scared of bitterness: chosen wisely, bitterness becomes balance!