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Discover The Taste Of Coffee Beans Aged In A Barrel Soaked In Bourbon

Wil Mazerolle and Jeremy MacFarlane of Freddy Bean Roasters. Image: Cara Smith.

FREDERICTON – With around a dozen craft alcohol producers spread across the city, Fredericton has begun fostering a sense of community and cooperation among brewers with many selling their would-be competitors’ products.

Now, the owners of Freddy Bean Roasters are tapping into that local spirit of cooperation with non-alcoholic barrel-aged spirit-infused coffee. Owners Jeremy MacFarlane and Wil Mazerolle recently set up shop at the Picaroons Brewtique on Queen Street and now sell coffee by the cup from there Monday to Friday from 7 am to 10 am.

“I’ve been roasting coffee for about four years now and friends and family would just ask me to roast them a batch,” MacFarlane says.

“After a while, I wanted to see if we could turn this into something. There are a lot of other really great coffee roasters in town so I didn’t want to just be another coffee roaster that did a light roast, medium roast, dark roast. I wanted to do something a bit different.”

MacFarlane has been working since June of last year to get the process down and create a product he could be proud of. He settled on a way of doing it that involves soaking oak barrels in bourbon and aging raw coffee beans in the barrels.

Raw coffee beans are like little sponges,” he says. “They’re very porous and will absorb whatever environment they’re in. When they sit in the barrels, they absorb the bourbon, the oak, the char.”

It’s not just the bourbon they’re taking out of the wood, it’s the wood itself. It’s very smoky, very wooden, very rustic. It’s all of that contributing to the taste of the coffee.”

Image: Cara Smith.

With Mazerolle taking care of the logistics end, Freddy Bean Roasters set up their first market space at the Cultural Market. As they grew in popularity, they began offering their product in more locations.

After the Picaroons Brewtique had been carrying their bags of coffee for a few months, they reached an agreement with Picaroons owner Sean Dunbar to move production to the Brewtique and sell by the cup on a regular schedule outside of market hours.

MacFarlane says this puts them well ahead of schedule and on the right track to eventually have their own brick-and-mortar location.

I come into a place every day and it’s smelling like oak and bourbon and coffee. It’s fantastic,” he says. “I want a simple little brick and mortar where I can work every day and my kids can have their first job.”

For now, MacFarlane and Mazerolle are focusing on growing the awareness and popularity of their product. They compare people discovering their unique brew after being used to Tim Hortons coffee to people discovering craft beer after always having drunk Budweiser.

“We acknowledge that it’s a niche product,” Mazerolle says. “Where craft coffee is a new thing, if people’s expectations are Tim Hortons and we give them this then, yeah, this is totally different.”

“I’d say [the response] has been generally positive. Really we’ve just been trying to let it grow and not rush and just keep getting in front of people.”

In addition to their serving hours at the Brewtique, Freddy Bean Roasters coffee is available by the cup at the Cultural Market on Saturdays and the Garrison Night Market on Thursdays. It’s available by the bag at the Picaroon’s Brewtique, Bowman’s Pharmasave and online at Shop Local NB.