In this entry, we shall unveil the origins of coffee liqueur in Galicia, delve into its meticulous crafting process, and offer insight into our own endeavors at Licores Bello Blanco.
- THE ORIGIN OF COFFEE LIQUEUR IN GALICIA
Amongst the diverse regions of Spain, Galicia stands out as a bastion deeply entrenched in the art of coffee liqueur-making. Indeed, the production of this beloved elixir has become a cherished tradition within many Galician households, passed down through generations with particular care. Since its inception, the original recipe has been embraced and refined, resulting in exceptional coffee liqueurs whose reputation has transcended national boundaries, earning the protective mantle of the Regulatory Council.
While the exact origins of coffee liqueur remain shrouded in mystery, it is indisputable that few places have embraced this elixir with such fervor as Galicia. As early as 1739, the Xunta of the Kingdom of Galicia advocated for the “unrestricted production of pomace brandy, promoting its medicinal and recreational use.” The distillation of grape pomace for brandy production began to gain popularity, and it was not long before someone had the brilliant idea of blending pomace with coffee. The earliest recorded recipe that marries these two ingredients dates back to 1850, and from that point onward, its popularity soared until the late 19th century, when the distillation of pomace was banned due to the belief that the brandy contained a potentially lethal toxic component.
In 1911, a special regime was established in Galicia, allowing for the distillation of pomace in specific municipalities during each campaign. After the distillation process, the caps or hoods of the distillation apparatus were required to be deposited at the town hall.
Undoubtedly, the most widely embraced and traditional recipe involves the harmonious union of finely ground coffee, pomace, and sugar. This is what sets Galician coffee liqueur apart from others that merely boast a coffee-flavored pomace base. Yet, the precise quantities of each ingredient form the secret key to Galicia’s classic recipe.
- COFFEE LIQUEUR IN GALICIA TODAY
Today, this beverage has transcended its adolescent and clandestine phase, acquiring its own set of rules, regulations, and Geographical Indication. Supermarket shelves are adorned with various commercial brands that have expanded the boundaries of traditional recipes, introducing citrus or sweet flavors to create unique nuances. In Galicia, this libation is intimately associated with rural life, evoking images of abundant feasts showcasing local delicacies, where families and friends gather around a crackling wood-fired hearth to enjoy a sumptuous Galician stew, tripe, empanadas, or pork with turnip greens. And, of course, no post-meal gathering is complete without rounds of coffee liqueur shots, adding warmth to the convivial conversations that linger into the night.
- BUT… WHAT IS COFFEE LIQUEUR?
Coffee liqueur is a tantalizing fusion of coffee, syrup, and a carefully selected distilled spirit, ranging from pomace brandy or brandy to rum and tequila. It is an alcoholic libation with countless variations, each bearing its own unique recipe originating from diverse corners of the world. In theory, its production is swift and straightforward. Coffee is allowed to infuse in the chosen spirit, and the resulting blend is enriched with sugar and other meticulously chosen ingredients to create a distinctive flavor profile. However, to create a coffee liqueur with a truly sublime taste, only the finest raw materials are utilized. When high-quality ingredients are meticulously combined and the recipe is followed with precision, the result is an ambrosial elixir fit for the gods.
In our case, the recipe we employ is the culmination of 26 painstaking trial-and-error experiments, meticulously refining our process until we arrived at our definitive formula. It bears little resemblance to the simple and expedited original recipe mentioned in this narrative.
- OUR COFFEE LIQUEUR
At the esteemed Licores Bello Blanco workshop, every aspect is crafted by hand. From the initial research and meticulous production process to the daily manual agitation during maceration, meticulous filtration, bottling, sealing, and labeling. Each batch we create is a limited edition, showcasing different alcohol content influenced by the absorption capacity of the base element that infuses the liqueur with its distinctive flavor.
- THE PROCESS
For our coffee liqueur, we begin with the foundation of Godello grape pomace brandy, ethically sourced UTZ certified organic coffee, organic panela from the Peruvian CAES Piura Cooperative, and pristine bottled mineral water for crafting the syrup. Once the coffee-infused syrups have rested for a full 24 hours, the pomace brandy is artfully introduced. The mixture is then transferred to 4-liter glass jars, providing an ideal vessel for manual agitation—an integral and distinct technique employed throughout the two-month maceration process. Herein lies our secret: a nod to the traditional batonnage technique employed in the production of port or sherry wines.
Subsequently, a brief settling period ensues before a meticulous drip-by-drip filtration process commences. This meticulous process unfolds over several days, utilizing the very coffee beans that infused the maceration as natural filters. Finally, the elixir is carefully transferred to vessels for a minimum of four additional months of maturation, during which time it gradually mellows and harmonizes, allowing the coffee essence to emerge and take center stage before the final moment of bottling.
*The process of batonnage involves gently stirring the wine with a baton to suspend and disperse the dead yeasts that settle at the bottom, thereby maximizing the extraction of their properties.