Barista Magazine

FEB-MAR 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Sam Schroeder of Olympia Coff ee Roasting in Olympia, Wash., won the fi rst of two U.S. Coff ee In Good Spirits preliminary events, held in Denver in December, with this drink, which used pineapple juice and rum to highlight the tropical and caramel notes he found in the Guatemalan coff ee he used. Sam will go on to compete in the fi rst U.S. Coff ee In Good Spirits Championship in Kansas City, Mo., in March. F O A M : N E W S + T R E N D S BELOVED COMPETITION COFFEE IN GOOD SPIRITS EXPANDS TO THE U.S.A. IN THE LAST DECADE OR SO, U.S. specialty-coffee cafés have been in an evolutionary phase. While many quality-focused shops were pre- viously dedicated exclusively to their coffee programs, many businesses have expanded their menus to include items like exquisite food. This broadening of the menu has also included the addition of alcohol for many cafés. While alcohol opens up new revenue streams and poten- tially boosts profi ts in the afternoons and evenings, it also provides adventurous coffee professionals with endless recipe opportunities when combining spirits with coffee. It's in this era of experimentation that the global Specialty Coffee Association has introduced a new coffee competition to its U.S. Coffee Championships roster: Coffee In Good Spirits (CIGS), which will have its debut national championship in Kansas City, Mo., in March, following CIGS qualifying competitions that took place in Denver in December 2018 and Nashville in January 2019. Coffee In Good Spirits tests baristas' abilities to make creative drinks combining coffee and alcohol. "The competition focuses not only on cocktails, but also the experience and techniques brought to the table," says Rita Kaminsky, U.S. CIGS committee chair and head judge. "Competitors are encouraged to present their knowledge, skills, fl air, and hospitality all while creating delicious drinks." While Coffee In Good Spirits is a new competition for the United States, it actually has a long history. The Specialty Coffee Association of Europe launched CIGS in 2005 as a way to combine the worlds of coffee and cocktails, which have long overlapped in Europe—after all, the word barista in Italian applies to someone who makes both coffee drinks and alcoholic drinks. Sonja Grant, one of the founders of many global coffee competi- tions—including CIGS and the World Barista Championship—says about the competition's origin: "At that time we only had the Barista Championship (started in 2000) and Cup Tasters (started in 2004), so we wanted to reach a broader audience and to make coffee professionalism also more fun." Speaking of fun, Sonja said that was one intention of the competition name's double meaning: "Spirit could mean both alcohol and being happy," she says. In 2011, World Coffee Events took over ownership of the Coffee In Good Spirits Championship. While this helped CIGS reach a wider audi- ence of coffee professionals, Europe has continued to have the biggest presence in the competition—in the most recent CIGS Championship, for example, the continent accounted for 12 of the 22 competitors. The CIGS competition has also helped to launch the careers of some well-known coffee professionals. Martin Hudak, for example, won the 2017 World Coffee In Good Spirits Championship; the Slovakian com- petitor used the publicity to earn several globe-trotting, public-facing roles, including serving as the global coffee ambassador for cold-brew coffee liqueur Mr. Black Spirits. "The Coffee In Good Spirits Champi- onship gave me the opportunity to become a 'bridge' between the world of coffee and cocktails," Martin says. While Coffee In Good Spirits has experienced lasting popularity in Europe and has reached Asia, Australia, and much of Latin America, the competition took many years to fi nally come to the USA. Carllee Curran, national competitions manager of the SCA, says there were an increasing number of requests from the U.S. competition community for the CIGS competition to come stateside, but the primary hurdle was U.S. liquor laws. "These vary drastically state-by-state, and since CoffeeChamps and the U.S. Coffee Championships move around the country each season, it creates unique logistical hurdles," she says. "Additionally, CoffeeChamps and USCC have always been accessible to all ages, so we needed to be certain that we could strictly observe the 21+ [age requirement] and distribution laws." Carllee says the U.S. Competitions Working Group underwent a lengthy process to understand each state's liquor laws so they could follow them very closely, and with that, the U.S. CIGS competition came into existence. Competitors in the U.S. Coffee In Good Spirits event have 10 minutes to make four drinks: two identical hot/warm coffee- and-alcohol-based signature drinks, and two identical cold coffee- and alcohol-based signature drinks. All coffee must be brewed during the performance time, and competitors must use vodka in either or both of the hot/warm or cold beverages. At the fi rst U.S. CIGS preliminary event in Denver, Sam Schroeder of Olympia Coffee Roasting won fi rst place. He used two coffees—a Maracaturra cultivar and a Java variety—from producer Juan Diego de la Cerda of El Socorro in Palencia, Guatemala, and built two drinks based on the distinct fl avor profi les of each coffee. Here's how Sam describes his hot drink, which he developed in collaboration with Brandon Paul Weaver, former barista and co-owner of Liberty Bar in Seattle: "I brewed the Maracaturra at a 1-to-15 ratio in a French press. [The coffee] has a lot of tropical fruit and caramel notes, so I bolstered the tropical fruit notes with Plantation Pineapple Rum and Giffard Pineapple Liqueur. I then paired that tropical character with Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka, topping it with a soft Luxardo Maraschino whipped cream, and served it in a glass rimmed with fresh pineapple juice and burnt sugar." As Sam's description indicates, U.S. coffee competitors are primed to embrace experimentation with coffee and alcohol, and Coffee In Good Spirits provides them with an apt forum in which to do so. Victor Delp- ierre, winner of the 2013 World Coffee In Good Spirits Championship, says the competition is challenging because it requires competitors to mix different skill sets, but it is worthwhile because it rewards creativ- ity. "Coffee is an unlimited source of creativity in that it gives us total liberty to come up with new fl avors," Victor says. "Honestly, you can pair coffee with anything. I encourage all baristas in this competition to be creative, exceed the borders of taste, and have fun!" —Chris Ryan PHOTO BY HONOR FORTE 30 barista magazine

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