BARISTAS, BARTENDERS, AND THE RISE IN COFFEE CULTURE
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you’ll have noticed that lately, this coffee stuff got serious, and then some. We’re currently in the grips of what’s known as the Third Wave Coffee Movement (seriously, it’s a thing). It’s all about a focus on quality (after the first wave of freeze-dried easiness, and then a second wave that saw global Starbucks-style chains bring an array of coffee to the masses). The funny thing is, all this fancy coffee chat is very similar to another wave we’re loving: the resurgence of classic cocktails in bars.
Temperature matters. Passionate bartenders pay as much attention to the ice they use as they do to the spirits in the glass. The right block can chill the drink with minimal dilution. Baristas, on the other hand, work carefully to ensure your flat white isn't too hot, as anything over 60°C will kill both flavour and texture, but if the temperature falls too far below that, your drink will be cold by the time it’s been delivered to the table.
EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN
It’s no surprise that classic flavours and production methods are having a moment right now. We all know about Prohibition style drinks, Mad-Men-esque three Martini lunches and the rising social acceptance of blue cocktails in the drinks world. It seems the same classic mentality exists in the coffee world too. Ever wondered about those ceramic filters lined up on copper pipes on your local coffee bar’s counter? Yeah that’s a pour over. Similar to the old method of brewing a single cup of fresh coffee by pouring hot water through a grind filled paper filter, only a lot more complicated. The pour over came to us from Japan where, unsurprisingly, each element of the water pouring ritual requires a particular technique, and a lot of patience. Instead of flooding the filter with hot water, a measured amount of water is slowly poured onto the ground coffee over several minutes. The resulting taste is worth the wait though, your coffee will be bright, distinctive and sweet.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
You’ll no doubt have noticed that smaller independent coffee shops are popping up all around our fair city. Standing out from the larger chain stores due to their attention to detail and passion (not to mention an absence of mis-spelled names on cups), this is akin to the influx of independent spirit producers gaining real estate on the back bars of London’s boozers. Bartenders’ excitement about the latest small batch gin made in a copper still named Beatrice in a London garage, can be compared to a barista’s chat about the newest delivery of single origin beans heading into the onsite roaster. The owners of Nude Espresso, London’s leading micro-roastery, travel to remote coffee growing regions, like Antioquia in Columbia, to meet with the farmers who grow the beans and work to establish relationships and fair pricing agreements, something that will ultimately lead to a quality coffee, and a better world.
BARISTAS VS BARTENDERS
The guys and gals who make your coffee and cocktails have a lot more in common than a shared love of moustaches and tattoo sleeves. Just like a bartender, London’s most passionate baristas compete in competitions, to fine tune their craft, network and win cool stuff! Training is extensive, and just as a bartender won’t miss the tasting of the latest vintage of tequila, baristas attend regular ‘cuppings’ to keep their coffee tasting skills in tune.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Japanese mixing glasses, fine strainers, long handled spoons and Mexican elbow juicers. If you’ve ever seen a bartender roll out his ‘kit’, it can look like an array of shiny James Bond style gadgetry. Likewise your local baristas can keep up some pretty solid chat about burr grinders, tampers and the fat content of milk (more is better by the way).
BOTH WORLDS MEET
Bring together these two worlds of passion and creativity and what you have is a thing of beauty. Take the perfectly balanced Espresso Martini, or the black & white/hot & cold contrast of a well-made Irish Coffee, and don’t even get us started on White Russians. Bartenders are starting to pay as much attention to the coffee they mix into their drinks as the rest of the ingredients, which brings us to...
THE KAHLUA COFFEE HOUSE
The original Mexican coffee liqueur, has teamed up with those creative cocktail folks The Liquorists, along with BarChick’s favourite coffee house Nude Espresso, to bring us The Kahlúa Coffee House at this year’s London Coffee Festival in East London's Old Truman Brewery from 3-6 April 2014.
Inspired by the coffee heritage of Veracruz, Mexico, the Coffee House pop-up will feature Mexican inspired coffee cocktails, like the Kahlúa Espresso Martini, and The Mocha (a creamy mix of Kahlúa, tequila, cherry Coke and chocolate ice cream). Along with all these cocktails, Jody from The Liquorists will be chatting about the science behind creating the perfect cocktail, and will also be unveiling his ingenious cocktail creation using coffee machines and a unique dried blend that can be brewed in a cafetiere. There’ll also be some discussion about the inter-play between coffee and cocktails, such as the role of flavour-matching, terroir, quality and heritage. And if that isn’t enough, Callooh Callay will also be serving up Kahlúa Callays during the Coffee Festival.
THE KAHLUA LAB SESSIONS
Learn how to whip up iconic cocktail serves at home, like the Espresso Martini and the White Russian, while joining in the discussion about the inter-play between coffee and cocktails (Over 18s Only).
The London Coffee Festival - 3-6th April, Old Truman Brewery