French press, cold-brewed, DIY bean roasting and even coffee beans pooped out of an elephant and priced $500 a pound.
Yes, we’ve now seen every coffee trend possible.
Or have we?
Hello, new Northwest trend. Now we’ve got coffee – flavored with beer.
Harmon beer is the curious ingredient in a line of sweetened coffee syrups developed by Melina Eshinski, pastry chef for Harmon Brewing Co.
She designed the beer reduction syrups for Hop Coffee, the espresso counter that opened Aug. 15 at the Harmon Taproom in the St. Helens neighborhood (one of four Harmon Brewing Co. locations from Tacoma to Gig Harbor).
Coffee service begins daily at 6 a.m. Find house-made pastries, bagels and portable breakfast food to go with your beer, err, coffee.
The beer syrups were the idea of Carole Ford, who co-owns the Harmon with Pat Nagle. Ford said via email, “…it may have been my original concept to start Hop Coffee but it was more a collaboration between my son, Riley Holder and Melina perfecting the recipes that made it all come to life.” Holder manages the Taproom and is also the creator of the Taproom’s beer cocktails.
Eshinski, a graduate of South Seattle Community College’s pastry arts program, is the Harmon’s first staff pastry chef, hired about two months ago. She was handed the task of creating the beer coffee syrups her first day on the job. Ford’s guidelines were loose. She could use any of the beers in the Harmon lineup. The syrups should pair well with espresso coffee drinks.
Research proved tricky – there wasn’t any to be found.
“So I knew I was in trouble when I didn’t get any Google hits. It was wonderful at the same time, because here we are doing something that nobody else is doing,” Eshinski said last week in a phone interview.
Her first few trials came with questionable results. The syrups tasted too bitter. “When you boil down beer, you wind up with a relatively bitter flavor and coffee already is a bitter flavor,” said Eshinski. Her big question, “How do you make this work harmoniously?” She turned to flavors – orange, chocolate, caramel and vanilla – that pair well with both coffee and beer. Adding sweetener helped the flavor along, too.
Two months of experimenting resulted in five syrups. The first two – the Puget Sound Porter chocolate sauce and the Pt. Defiance IPA caramel sauce – were available at opening and one more has been added, a pumpkin spice syrup made with Harmon Expedition Amber. Two more syrups are on the way.
“For the porter syrup, we make the chocolate sauce in house. It’s a really nice, clean chocolate sauce,” she said. “I add a reduced porter syrup to it. Folding chocolate and porter together is a relatively common beer dessert profile. In fact we have a porter chocolate cake here. They marry very well. That one was definitely easiest of all we did. It gives you a little bit of depth in the beer and a really nice chocolate profile. It’s a really grounded, clean chocolate flavor with just a little bit of a beer kick.” She recommends ordering the porter syrup in a mocha.
Also available now at Hop Coffee is a syrup made with the Harmon’s flagship IPA, which Eshinski describes as the most adventurous — and beer forward — of the syrups. “That was much harder,” she said. “The caramel IPA is a lot of fun. You really taste that beer. … It has the sweetness of the caramel — so the sweetener is really what’s helping them bring the flavors together.” She suggest ordering the IPA syrup in an iced americano with cream.
Two coffee syrups will be debuted in the next few months, featuring the Harmon Mt. Takhoma Blonde and the Pinnacle Peak Pale Ale. The pale ale syrup is blended with vanilla, which Eshinski recommends in a macchiato. The blonde ale syrup comes with a flavor that Eshinksi described as “a creamsicle.” It’s blended with orange zest. She recommends ordering that syrup in a white chocolate mocha.
The coffee-beer project at Harmon involves another Tacoma entity. Bluebeard Coffee Roasters roasts the beans for the Harmon.
Pastry tip: Eshinski is now baking scratch pastry and desserts for the Tacoma and Gig Harbor Hub locations and the Harmon Taproom. She soon will have her scratch-made desserts available at the downtown Tacoma Harmon brewpub. Among her new desserts are Hop Tarts — resembling Pop Tart pastries — in flavors such as strawberry and lemon-mascarpone. She’s also making scratch bagels for Hop Coffee.
Where: Inside the Harmon Taproom, 204 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma; 253-212-2725
Serving: Coffee service begins daily at 6 a.m.