Roasty Buds was born to be experimental. Last year, co-owners Louis Montemayor, Daniel Stone, and George Ellis solved the world’s deficiency of spicy coffee when they launched their Austin-based brand with a trio of brews. Kinda Spicy, Xtra Spicy, and XXXtra Insane Spicy beans—flavored with Hatch green chiles, ghost peppers, and Carolina Reaper peppers, respectively—brought a new way to wake up with your morning coffee. This month, they launched a pair of smoked coffee varieties, Texas BBQ and Cherry Glaze Smoked BBQ.

All Roasty Buds coffees are made with Arabica beans roasted in Spicewood, a town just outside Austin, by Mike McKim of Cuvée Coffee. Twelve-ounce bags of any flavor are $17 and available online. For the barbecue coffee varieties, McKim uses a process whereby wood smoke is introduced into the roaster filled with beans. “They’re roasted in the traditional manner, then flash-smoked for the last few degrees of development,” Montemayor explained. In the process, he said, “the roaster’s fan is closed to hold in the smoke so the beans can roll in the smoke, infusing the blend with a smoky, unique flavor.”

The company sent me a box of several flavors to try, including the two barbecue varieties. I brewed them all for a taste test, so this is all being typed more rapidly than most of my articles.

The first thing I noticed when opening the bag of Texas BBQ coffee was the lack of a smoky aroma. I know my sensitivity to smoke has decreased over the years, so I passed it to my wife and kids, who agreed. After taste-testing the Low and Slow smoked potato chips recently, I was hoping for a similar experience, but the smell of roasted coffee is a strong one to overcome, and this variety is a dark roast compared to the medium roast used for most other Roasty Buds flavors. The short burst of wood smoke in the coffee roaster didn’t have enough staying power. I’d have to wait until a pot brewed to see if the flavor would come through.

I lined up several varieties of hot coffee, all ground fresh and brewed in my Bunn drip coffee maker. One variety, called Cherry Bomb, had a sweet smell and tart flavor that carried over into the coffee, and was there to a lesser degree in the Cherry Glaze Smoked BBQ. But the latter wouldn’t have registered as smoked unless I’d seen it on the label.

The Texas BBQ variety was about the same. I enjoyed the robust flavor of the dark roast and would gladly drink it again, but there wasn’t much wood smoke that came through in the aroma or flavor. I normally drink medium roast Ethiopian and Central American beans, so I’m not much of a flavored coffee guy, but I was taken by the Mexican Chocolate beans. Their aroma held through from the bag to the brewed coffee. As for the Xtra Spicy, it’s no joke. After a confident swig, I gasped. It carries some serious ghost pepper spice, so sip cautiously.

Upon reflection, I’m not sure I want a ton of smoke in my morning coffee. The folks at Roasty Buds claim theirs as “the first-ever smoked barbecue coffee,” which might hint at demand for such a thing. I could imagine it working better in cocktails, like the popular espresso martini. For the record, Roasty Buds Texas BBQ coffee isn’t even the first smoked coffee in Texas. Whiskey Morning Coffee out of Tolar introduced its Texian Army Brew in 2020. I haven’t tried it, but the beans are cold-smoked for eight hours with pecan and cherrywood. Montemayor of Roasty Buds hinted they’re looking to partner with a local barbecue joint for a different method of coffee bean smoking on a future version of their barbecue coffee. I’ll happily volunteer for another taste test, as long as they send along an extra bag of Mexican Chocolate, because this one isn’t going to last long.