(Photo: Joanna Han for Sprudge)

The inaugural edition of the New York Coffee Festival happened last weekend in Manhattan. We checked out all the exhibits, talks, and booze with contributors Elizabeth Chai and D. Robert Wolchek, and will be bringing you event coverage throughout the week on Sprudge. First up, Chai checks in on our friends and partners at BKON, who were on hand at NYCCF offering a near-instant molecular rum infusion with their futuristic brewer.

The BKON brewer uses complex technology for a noble goal: exploring non-traditional brewing and steeping methods for the coffee, cocktail, and culinary world. Much tastiness has already been created in the hands of innovators like Chef Hugh Acheson in Atlanta and Panther Coffee in Miami, and at the NY Coffee Festival we checked out another glimpse at what the machine can do, as Lou Vastardis, BKON co-founder, walked us through his vision for infusing rum with coffee and spices.

BKON craft brewer new york coffee festival 2015 mount gay rum cocktail counter culture coffee sprudge

Vastardis’ concoction started with 25 grams of coarsely ground Counter Culture Coffee Kenya Kavamindi. Thrown in with the ground coffee were spices: 2 grams valencia orange peel, 1.75 grams anise seed pod, 0.05 grams crushed cardamom seed, 0.25 grams ceylon cinnamon, and 0.3 grams of clove. The BKON Brew’s filter compartment was then filled with 6 ounces Mount Gay Barbados Rum, and the whole dang thing went into the BKON pressure chamber.

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BKON craft brewer new york coffee festival 2015 mount gay rum cocktail counter culture coffee sprudge

What happened next is not something easily replicated without hours, days, or weeks of infusion time. For this particular rum infusion, he programmed the BKON Craft Brewer to execute a series of four high-pressure vacuum and release pulses. The vacuum suctioned gasses out of the coffee (and spices) cellular structure, and upon release, the remaining space in the cells absorbed the liquid (rum)—essentially an infusion in fast-forward. After just a couple of minutes, the concoction was released through the filter and into a carafe, already a darker shade of golden brown—a coffee-infused rum, ready to drink in just minutes.

BKON craft brewer new york coffee festival 2015 mount gay rum cocktail counter culture coffee sprudge

Sprudge contributor, D. Robert Wolcheck, tasted the beverage and was surprised by how aromatic the coffee was. He noted “the coffee and spice flavors are very clearly imbued into the rum, rather than multiple flavors running in parallel. It’s a unique drink, and much more like an infused-rum rather than a cocktail.”

We compared the rum drink alongside the same coffee brewed alone in the BKON, and the bright and fragrant aromatics of coffee and coffee-rum were nearly identical—presumably because of the BKON technology’s claimed ability to maintain the terroir and essence of ingredients, without adulteration or unwanted oxidization during the brewing or steeping process.

Through experimentation with infusion and steeping, beverage concoctors could feasibly compare recipe variations without the traditional limitations of having to wait hours or days to taste a result. Want to see if batch #5 of your hot new Papua New Guinea Espresso and Ghost Pepper Cognac over ice is properly dialed in? The BKON’s got you covered.

Elizabeth Chai (@chaiamericano) is a graphic designer and freelance writer based in Atlanta. This is Elizabeth Chai’s first feature for Sprudge.


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