When John Ross Ferrell, owner of Ecos coconut beverages, decided to branch out with coffee products, he wanted to have a little fun with his new brand. Under the alter ego of Johnny Stallion, Ferrell formed PhiloÇoffia (pronounced “fill-le-sof-ee-ah”), a coffee company that includes the newly released Devil’s Cut cold brew coffees in whiskey, cognac and tequila flavors, each aged in their respective barrels.
“With the brand itself, I want it to be fun and energetic,” he said. “Some coffees go with a more rustic approach, but I wanted to reflect a different take on what you can do with some of the new-age coffee.”
Using an artistic yet scientific method that Ferrell said is different than the way other roasters are barrel-aging coffee, he infuses flavors of whiskey, tequila and cognac into coffee beans sold by whole bean ($25 for a 10-ounce bag) or in ready-to-drink, eight-ounce bottles (average $4 per bottle). The Devil’s Cut coffees are non-alcoholic and can be enjoyed right out of the bottle hot or cold, or one can add alcohol to craft coffee drinks with a kick. Devil’s Cut is also available in a 32-ounce concentrate service industry size for cafés, bars and restaurants.
The aromas wafting from all three Devil’s Cut flavors are a sensorial experience, with whiskey being the strongest, followed by tequila, and cognac being the lightest. The drinks are smooth with no bitterness, and if one didn’t know better, one might think they were consuming an alcoholic coffee drink. “If someone’s at a party and they can’t drink because they’re driving, they can still participate and enjoy a liquor flavor, but without the alcohol,” Ferrell said.
Ferrell is a U.S. Navy veteran and studied political science at the U.S. Naval Academy. He worked with coconut products during his employment at Zico, a manufacturer of coconut water. When Coca-Cola purchased that business, Ferrell left to start Ecos, but he wanted to offer something more exciting than just coconut water. He played around with coating coffee beans with coconut oil to preserve the beans. “When I roasted and brewed them, I noticed the aroma was really nice; not bitter, with a light, savory flavor and a hint of coconut,” he said.
Starting with coconut oil-coated coffee beans, Ferrell released a paleo line (no added sugar) of ready-to-drink coffee beverages in original, cinnamon spice and chocolate truffle. He tinkered further with the concept of creating a product that would have appeal to customers at specialty grocers, as well as café and bar owners. He researched flavor-infused coffee beans and found that the going online rate was well over $20 per-pound, and that only about a dozen roasters throughout the country were offering such a product.
Ferrell partnered with Ayhan Munzur, owner of Café De Arts, in Waukesha, to help develop a coffee bean blend, and to roast the beans for PhiloÇoffia’s products. Customers can purchase PhiloÇoffia’s barrel-aged beans at Café De Arts.
With a clever new product now hitting the shelves at Milwaukee locations including Outpost Natural Foods and Beans & Barley, Ferrell is ready to take it to the next level. He’s on this year’s FaB Wisconsin committee, and he hopes to hire part-time employees at PhiloÇoffia and eventually offer a service to other coffee houses to create specific liquor barrel-aged blends for them. He will also do samplings and events.