Drunken Donuts: Scientists Turn Used Coffee Grounds into Booze

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Mixing alcohol and coffee is a time-honored tradition, but isn't it time we take the next step? What if our booze could actually be coffee, and our coffee actually booze? Scientists have been hard at work on exactly that problem, and their new concoction is a 80 proof, hard liquor literally made from coffee grounds.

Unlike Kahlua or most other coffee-plus-alcohol options that are just a marriage of two different flavors, this alcohol is actually made out of coffee. It is both things at once. And it's made from used grounds to boot. We've done a bit of our own mad-science to try and create a hybrid, but it's always good to know the professionals waste their time on the same dumb stuff we do.


Science Magazine explains the process:

The scientists first collected [used grounds] from a Portuguese coffee roasting company and dried it. Then they heated the powder in water at 163°C for 45 minutes, separated out the liquid, and added sugar. Next, the team mixed in yeast cells, let the concoction ferment, and concentrated the sample to get a higher alcohol content. ...And voilà! Used coffee grounds produced a new alcoholic beverage with 40% ethanol.


People who've tried the concoction say it tastes just like coffee, but with a bitter, pungent kick to it. And while they all said it was suitable for drinking in its infant form, the taste could be altered and improved with a little tweaking and aging.

There's only one catch, which is that the caffeine gets lost in the brewing. So if you're looking to get both of your chemical fixes at the same time, you'll have to opt for a more classic solution like Irish coffee, or vintage Four Loko from your private underground stockpile. At least until that glorious day that you can spike your coffee with some coffee. [Science Magazine via Smithsonian]


Image by Yulia Davidovich/Shutterstock