Saturday, March 13, 2010

Signature Experiments

One of the fun things at any barista competition are the amazing signature drinks that the competitors create during their 15 shot at coffee glory.

Some with quite bizarre ingredients appear - to great acclaim, or not but either way the creativity that goes into the planning and execution of the signature drinks is a testament to the passion of each barista.

I have on occasion been fortunate to try some of these signature drinks and get a lot of inspiration from them.

Recently I have been playing with some ideas for signature drinks. One involves the Soda Stream - a simple device for carbonating water and so far I have made an espresso spider, carbonated iced coffee and a carbonated espresso soft drink. Only the espresso spider seemed to have potential for real greatness - but possibly at someone elses hands rather than my own.

My other discovery is Sasparilla. Those who hail from Queensland will recall "Sars" as a familiar drink and while it is not so popular over here in the West you can by the Sasparilla concentrate from Bundaberg. This is a naturally brewed concentrate of ginger root, licorice root molasses and sasparilla root and is absolutely outstanding with espresso.

I started by adding about 2ml to the bottom of my shot glass then pouring the espresso over the top. The licorice root gives the drink a not-quite-but-almost salty edge and the result is a sweet and savory concoction of dark power.

My next addition was some unsweetened West African Red Cocoa (from CoffeeSnobs) stirred with a little hot water and 2 ml of sasparilla cordial. Into this I poured one shot of espresso and and tipped the lot over vanilla ice cream.


I think the trick is the balance of flavour already in the cordial - there is no dominant flavour (just as well as I do not like licorice at all!) but the combination goes with coffee in much the same way that chicory root does.

The really good part was that the cordial did not dominate the espresso but elevated certain parts of the flavour profile. This was a fun and tasty experiment!

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