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As dawn breaks and the first rays of sunlight seep into your room, a familiar aroma wafts through the air. It’s the scent of freshly brewed coffee, a morning ritual that many of us rely on to jumpstart our day. But imagine if that same cup could transition from your morning routine, right into a late afternoon treat or even an evening relaxant. Enter the world of hard coffee, a spirited twist on our beloved brew that’s rapidly gaining popularity across the globe.

One brand that has become synonymous with this trend is Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Coffee. A trailblazer in this evolving market, they’ve managed to create a unique blend that perfectly marries the robustness of coffee with the vivacity of alcohol. But they’re just part of the story.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the multi-layered universe of this delectable coffee. From its origins and brewing techniques to its impact on coffee culture and the beverage industry at large, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about this exciting innovation. So, whether you’re a coffee aficionado, an adventurous drinker, or simply a curious reader, sit back, relax, and let us navigate you through the intriguing journey of this concoction.

Hard Coffee: Key Takeaway

  • Hard Coffee Origins and Influence: The emergence of this drink has changed the beverage landscape, bringing innovation to the coffee industry and creating a new niche in the market.
  • Brewing Techniques: The brewing process of this beverage involves a careful selection of beans and the art of infusing alcohol. The balance between coffee strength and alcohol content is key to crafting a perfect cup of joe.
  • Top Brands in the Market: Brands like Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Coffee, Cafe Agave Spiked Cold Brew, La Colombe Hard Cold Brew Coffee, Rebel Hard, and Brown Bomber Hard Latte are leading the market with their unique offerings.
  • Food Pairing: this delectable drink can be paired with various foods across different meals, from breakfast pastries to hearty dinner meals, and even with desserts, providing a unique culinary experience.
  • Future of Hard Coffee: Predicted trends indicate increased product variety, brewing innovation, and a focus on sustainability in the hard coffee industry. Its impact on coffee culture is significant, and while there are potential health benefits, responsible consumption is crucial due to the combined effects of caffeine and alcohol.

The Emergence of Hard Coffee

In the ever-evolving world of beverages, the emergence of this drink is a testament to the industry’s innovative spirit. This unique blend of caffeine and alcohol combines two beloved drinks into one, setting the stage for a new era in the beverage landscape.

Tracing the Origins

Hard coffee, although relatively new, draws its roots from the centuries-old tradition of combining coffee and alcohol. Italians have long enjoyed ‘caffe corretto,’ an espresso ‘corrected’ with a splash of grappa or sambuca. (1) Similarly, Irish Coffee, a blend of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and cream, has been a popular choice for decades. (2)

two glasses of hard coffee on a plate of wood

However, the concept of canned coffee, ready to be enjoyed anytime, anywhere, truly took off when Pabst Blue Ribbon introduced its hard coffee in 2019. It was an instant hit, pushing other brands to follow suit and contribute to this emerging market.

How Hard Coffee is Changing the Beverage Landscape

The introduction of this concoction has significantly influenced the beverage industry. It has created a new niche, catering to those who appreciate the complexity of coffee and the buzz of alcohol. This fusion has expanded the boundaries of traditional coffee drinking habits, allowing it to transition from a morning staple to an enjoyable drink at social gatherings and evening relaxations.

a glass of ice with hard coffee

Moreover, this delectable beverage has blurred the lines between the two industries, inviting brewers and roasters to collaborate in unprecedented ways. It’s not only changing how we perceive and consume these beverages but also how we approach their production and marketing.

The Role of Innovation in the Coffee Industry

Innovation has been at the heart of the coffee industry’s growth, and this concoction is one of its latest triumphs. The industry’s ability to adapt and evolve is evident in the various brewing methods, bean types, flavors, and now, the integration of alcohol.

roasting coffee beans

The creation of this beverage required experimentation and creativity, from selecting the right beans and deciding the correct alcohol content to achieving the perfect balance of flavor. As more brands venture into this space, we can expect to see further inventive approaches to this coffee, pushing the boundaries of this new and exciting segment of the industry.


Brewing Techniques for Hard Coffee

Creating a delectable cup of joe is no simple task. It requires the finesse of brewing techniques, the careful selection of beans, and the artful infusion of alcohol. Let’s delve into the process of making the perfect drink.

Selecting the Perfect Coffee Beans

The first step to crafting a superior coffee drink lies in selecting the perfect beans. Similar to traditional brewing, the choice of beans significantly impacts the overall flavor of the drink. The drink should be rich and robust enough to stand up to the alcohol while not overpowering it.

coffee beans

Single-origin beans are often preferred for their distinct flavors, but blends can also provide a harmonious balance of taste. A medium to dark roast is usually chosen as it pairs well with the alcohol, creating a delightful concoction.

The Art of Infusing Alcohol in Coffee

Infusing alcohol in coffee is a delicate process that requires skill and precision. The choice of alcohol is crucial—while a neutral spirit may not alter the coffee’s flavor significantly, something like whiskey or rum can add exciting flavor notes.

a dark glass of porter

The method of infusion also plays a role. Cold brewing is a popular technique as it reduces the coffee’s acidity, allowing for a smoother blend with the alcohol. The coffee is steeped in cold water for several hours, then strained and mixed with the chosen spirit.

Intrigued by the mixture of alcohol and coffee? Explore the artistry of cold brewing and indulge in the perfect fusion of smooth coffee and delightful craft beer flavors. Read more about Coffee Beer today!

Mastering the Balance: Coffee Strength vs. Alcohol Content

Striking the right balance between the coffee’s strength and the alcohol content is the key to a successful hard coffee. Too much alcohol can overpower the coffee, while too little may render it undetectable.

various beers with hard coffee

Most hard coffees contain around 5% alcohol by volume (ABV), which offers a pleasant buzz without overwhelming the taste buds. The coffee strength should be adjusted accordingly, ensuring that its flavor shines through without dominating the drink.

How to Brew Hard Coffee at Home

hard coffee on the rocks

Creating your drink at home can be an enjoyable and satisfying endeavor. If you’re ready to experiment with this flavorful fusion, here is a step-by-step guide to help you brew the perfect batch.

Step 1: Brew Your Coffee

Start by selecting your favorite beans. A robust, medium-to-dark roast works best. If you’re using the cold brew method, grind your beans coarsely, combine them with cold water, and allow the mixture to steep in your refrigerator for 12-24 hours. Then, strain the coffee to remove the grounds.

Step 2: Select and Measure Your Alcohol

Next, choose the type of alcohol you wish to use. Creamy liqueurs and flavored vodkas tend to complement the coffee flavor well. Measure out an amount equal to the volume of your brewed coffee. This 1:1 ratio is a good starting point, but you can adjust based on your taste.

Step 3: Combine Coffee and Alcohol

Once your coffee has cooled, it’s time to mix in your alcohol. Blend the two liquids thoroughly to ensure seamless integration of flavors.

Step 4: Chill Your Mixture

After you’ve combined the two beverages, place the mixture in your refrigerator to chill. This step enhances the flavor profile and ensures your coffee is refreshingly cool.

Step 5: Serve Over Ice

When you’re ready to enjoy your homemade coffee, serve it over ice in a glass. The ice not only keeps your drink cool but also helps to balance the flavors as it slowly melts.

This step-by-step process will enable you to create a delightful drink right in the comfort of your own home. Enjoy this invigorating twist on your regular cup of joe!

Top Brands in the Hard Coffee Market

As the popularity of this concoction continues to rise, several brands have made their mark in this rapidly expanding market. Each brings a unique approach to the table, offering consumers a variety of choices to suit their palate. Let’s explore some of the top players in the coffee market.

Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Coffee: Pioneering the Trend

pabst blue ribbon hard coffee
Copyright: © 2019 Robb McCormick Photography

Leading the charge in the hard coffee revolution is Pabst Blue Ribbon. Their drink broke new ground when it was introduced, capturing the attention of coffee and alcohol enthusiasts alike.

Key Highlights: 

  • Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Coffee offers a distinct combination of Arabica and Robusta beans, milk, and a hint of vanilla. The outcome is a luscious, creamy malt drink infused with a dose of caffeine.
  • With a 5% ABV, it provides a light buzz, perfectly balancing the stimulating effects of the drink.
  • The convenience of a ready-to-drink can makes it a perfect choice for social gatherings, picnics, or a relaxing evening at home.

Cafe Agave Spiked Cold Brew: A Premium Option

cafe agave spiked cold brew coffee

Offering a more luxurious take on hard coffee is Cafe Agave Spiked Cold Brew. This brand blends premium ingredients to create a sophisticated, indulgent beverage.

Key Highlights: 

  • Cafe Agave uses 100% Arabica Colombian beans, providing a robust and smooth flavor profile.
  • With a higher ABV of 12.5%, it caters to those looking for a stronger alcohol presence in their drink.
  • Cafe Agave presents a range of flavor options to satisfy refined tastes, with four enticing choices:  Salted Caramel, Espresso Shot, Vanilla Cinnamon, and Caffe Mocha.

La Colombe Hard Cold Brew: A Craft Approach

bunch of men enjoying la colombe hard cold brew

For those who appreciate a craft approach to their beverages, La Colombe Hard Cold Brew is an excellent choice. This brand combines its expertise in brewing with an artisanal touch.

Key Highlights: 

  • La Colombe uses Brazilian medium roast, giving their drink a distinctive, high-quality flavor.
  • With a lower 4.2% ABV, it ensures the coffee notes shine through, making it an excellent choice for coffee purists who want a hint of alcohol.
  • Comes in two varieties: Vanilla, a rich vanilla bean with dark chocolate undertones, and Black, a traditional cold brew with a delicate balance of sweetness and bitterness.

These top brands, each with their unique approach and offerings, are shaping the future of the coffee market and providing consumers with an exciting array of choices.

Rebel Hard Coffee: Unleashing Your Inner Maverick

rebel hard drink

Defying conventions and setting its path, Rebel Hard Coffee is the choice for those who appreciate bold flavors and a non-conformist spirit.

Key Highlights:  

  • Rebel Hard Coffee offers a blend of 100% Arabica with a perfect hit of alcohol, resulting in a daringly delicious beverage.
  • With an ABV of 5%, Rebel strikes a balance that delivers a refreshing buzz without compromising the coffee’s robust flavor.
  • Rebel Hard Coffee’s lineup includes intriguing flavors like Mocha, Vanilla, and Salted Caramel, enticing consumers to break free from the ordinary and embrace the extraordinary.

Brown Bomber Hard Latte: Power Your Day in a Unique Way

brown bomber hard latte

Making a name for itself in the coffee market, Brown Bomber Hard Latte offers a beverage that packs a punch with its unique flavor profile and intriguing name.

Key Highlights: 

  • Brown Bomber uses premium malt and 100% Arabica beans, resulting in a latte-style beverage that’s both satisfying and exhilarating.
  • With an ABV of 5%, Brown Bomber delivers a pleasant alcohol-induced warmth that complements the rich, creamy beverage.
  • Available in vanilla mocha flavors, Brown Bomber Hard Latte offers options for traditionalists and chocolate lovers alike, setting the stage for an invigorating experience.

Pairing Hard Coffee with Food

Discovering the perfect pairing for this delectable beverage can transform your culinary experience, given its unique fusion of rich coffee flavor and alcohol. Let’s dive into some of the most delectable pairings across different meals.

Best Breakfast Foods to Pair

If you’re kicking off your day with this concoction, consider coupling it with breakfast foods that enhance its rich and complex character.

a healthy breakfast on a plate

Try partnering it with classic pastries like croissants and Danish pastries. The buttery, flaky goodness of these treats contrasts beautifully with the bold, robust notes.

If you’re in the mood for a more substantial meal, a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast can also pair nicely. The smoky bacon and the rich, creamy eggs can stand their ground against the strong flavors of this drink.

For a lighter option, a fruit bowl or a yogurt parfait can offer a refreshing balance to the bitterness of the drink, with their natural sweetness creating a harmonious palate experience.

Lunch and Dinner Pairings: From Salads to Steaks

When it comes to lunch and dinner, this concoction exhibits its versatility by complementing a range of dishes.

a delicious steak with veggies on a plate

Light lunches like salads with a mix of sweet and savory elements, such as a beet and goat cheese salad or a grilled chicken salad with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette, are a delightful match.

For more robust meals, grilled or roasted meats can be a splendid pairing. The charred flavors of a well-grilled steak or the juiciness of a perfectly roasted chicken can meet the boldness of the coffee and alcohol head-on.

Don’t forget about vegetarian dishes. A creamy mushroom risotto or a spicy vegetable curry can balance the flavors in your drink, providing an enhanced culinary journey.

Mixing with Desserts: A Match Made in Heaven

delicious desserts in a glass

When dessert time rolls around, this concoction is a dream partner.

Chocolate-based desserts, such as a decadent chocolate mousse or a slice of rich chocolate ganache cake, synchronize perfectly with this delectable beverage. The shared bitter undertones create a pleasing and harmonious blend of flavors.

If you prefer creamy desserts, consider pairing your drink with a vanilla panna cotta or a slice of creamy cheesecake. These desserts provide a smooth, rich contrast to the coffee’s bitterness and round off a meal perfectly.

For a fruity end to your meal, consider a tangy lemon tart or a sweet apple pie. These desserts offer a refreshing balance to the robust flavors, making each sip and bite a delightful experience.

coffee whiskey barrel coffee gift

The Future of Hard Coffee

As this coffee continues to gain momentum, it’s worth examining what lies ahead for this burgeoning beverage. From industry trends to cultural impacts and health implications, let’s explore the future of this concoction.

The hard coffee industry is poised for evolution, with several trends likely to shape its future.

Firstly, we can anticipate an increase in product variety. As more brands enter the market, consumers will have access to a wider array of flavor profiles, coffee-alcohol ratios, and price points.

hard coffee served in a martini glass

Secondly, innovation in brewing techniques and ingredients will continue to advance. Brands will explore new ways to enhance the flavor and texture of this beverage, possibly integrating elements such as different types of alcohol, unique varieties, and various sweeteners or flavorings.

Lastly, sustainability is likely to become a key focus. As with other sectors of the beverage industry, coffee producers will need to address issues like ethical sourcing of beans, sustainable packaging, and carbon footprint.

The Impact on Coffee Culture

This drink is contributing to a broader shift in coffee culture. Traditionally, coffee has been seen primarily as a morning or daytime beverage, but this concoction is changing this narrative. It’s enabling the drink to transition into evening social scenarios, where it would typically be replaced by alcoholic beverages.

Additionally, this drink is encouraging experimentation and pushing boundaries in the coffee world. The fusion of the two beverages is leading consumers and producers alike to re-think what coffee can be, fostering a culture of innovation and creativity.

Potential Health Benefits and Concerns

As with any food or drink, this delightful beverage comes with potential health benefits and concerns. On the one hand, coffee is known for its antioxidant properties and potential to enhance cognitive function and metabolic health. On the other hand, alcohol, when consumed in moderation, has been linked to certain health benefits such as improved cardiovascular health. (3)

a woman shouting in the living room

However, the combination of caffeine and alcohol warrants caution. Both substances can dehydrate the body, and their combined effects can lead to increased heart rate and impaired judgment. Additionally, it’s essential to remember that this drink, while delicious, is still an alcoholic beverage and should be consumed responsibly. 

As this delectable drink continues to grow in popularity, it will be important for consumers to balance the enjoyment of this innovative beverage with mindful consumption habits.

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The world of hard coffee, with its delightful blend of rich coffee and alcohol, offers an intriguing exploration for coffee lovers and cocktail enthusiasts alike. From tracing its origins to understanding brewing techniques, from discovering top brands like Pabst Blue Ribbon to exploring the perfect food pairings, this comprehensive guide has provided a deep dive into all things related to this delectable beverage.

The trend of this concoction is more than just a fad. It’s a testament to the continuous evolution of our beverage preferences, merging the traditional coffee culture with the adventurous spirit of the alcohol industry. As we look to the future, the coffee industry, driven by pioneers like Pabst Blue Ribbon, is set to grow, innovate, and redefine our drink experiences.

Whether you’re savoring a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Coffee at a social gathering or brewing your version at home, remember to enjoy this innovative beverage responsibly. As we continue to explore the exciting world of this beverage, one thing’s for sure: our coffee breaks are getting a lot more interesting. Cheers to that!


Hard coffee is brewed by carefully selecting coffee beans and infusing alcohol into the coffee. Techniques involve balancing the strength of the coffee with the alcohol content, and this varies depending on the desired flavor profile and potency of the beverage.

Some of the top brands offering hard coffee include Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Coffee, Cafe Agave Spiked Cold Brew, La Colombe Hard Cold Brew Coffee, Rebel Hard Coffee, and Brown Bomber Hard Latte. These brands each offer a unique take on the hard coffee concept.

Hard coffee pairs well with a variety of foods. For breakfast, it can be paired with pastries or a hearty meal of eggs and bacon. For lunch or dinner, it complements salads, grilled meats, and even vegetarian dishes. Desserts, particularly those based on chocolate or fruits, also go well with hard coffee.

Future trends in the hard coffee industry include a greater variety of products, innovation in brewing techniques and ingredients, and a focus on sustainability. Additionally, as hard coffee continues to impact coffee culture, we can expect ongoing exploration of the possibilities of this unique beverage.

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