Coffee Cocktail Recipes for the Weekend


This week I took part in the UK Coffee in Good Spirits 2015 Competition (and came a very respectable third place). Now that the dust has settled I thought it would be a good opportunity to share with you the two recipes I presented to the judges.


I have 3 good reasons why you should break out the cocktail shaker this weekend and try something a little cheeky (minus the “bantz”).

1. It’s looking promising for some good weather and with that comes barbeques. What’s a bbq without homemade boozy drinks?!

2. This Saturday is World Whisky Day. It would be rude not to mark the occasion.

3. These recipes are really rather good. I promise you won’t have tasted Irish Coffee quite like this before.

So now I’ve made your excuses, let’s get into the recipes…


irish_coffeeCold Irish Coffee

This was my left field entry into the competition. it’s a well known drink, with a great creation story, but it is always served hot. So why serve it cold? I found that with the ingredients served cold it brought out all the tropical fruit character of the coffee. The hot coffee was bringing out too much of the flavour of the whisky cask and you couldn’t get all the nuance of the Los Lajones and so creating the drink cold allowed all the flavours of the coffee (as well as the whisky) to come through on the palate. Try it, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

For 2 Irish Coffees You will need:

  •  Espresso Machine and grinder (although you could use aeropress)
  • 2x 240ml wine glass
  • Aeropress
  • Clip top (Kilner Style) bottle
  • 22g Los Lajones Natural Caturra, Panama
  • 30g Orange Blossom Honey
  • 50ml Dalmore 15 Year Old (sorry Ireland but I found Scotch pairs better with the Los Lajones)
  • 150ml Double Cream
  • Bar spoon
  • Small sieve (optional)
  • 340ml jug (optional)


Brew espresso to this recipe: 22g Los Lajones Natural Caturra. Delivering 35g of espresso in 30 seconds.

Using the inverted aeropress method, pour the 3 double espressos into the aeropress, add the washed filter in the cap and press the espresso through into a jug to remove the crema. Add 220ml of iced water, the whisky and the honey and divide into two glasses.

Add the cream to the clip top bottle and shake vigorously until you hear a change to the sound the cream makes as it thickens. Keep shaking gently until the cream feels thick. For a really glossy finish, strain through the sieve into a small jug.

Slowly pour the cream over the back of a bar spoon onto the coffee – it should float.

This will be quite unlike any Irish Coffee you have ever had before: the cream coats the inside of your mouth and has the texture of chocolate melting in your mouth. The cool coffee and whisky underlayer has the flavour of pineapple, mango and passionfruit. It is cold, refreshing and luxurious. For a REALLY indulgent experience, why not try with Los Lajones Geisha Sweet Princess?



Marmalade Crescendo

This cocktail has all the characteristics of a classic Ethiopian coffee – floral, citrus and a long fruit finish, but in an accessible cocktail for people who don’t “get” Speciality Coffee…..yet! It’s amazing how alcohol can change one’s motivation!

For 2 Marmalade Crescendos You will need:

  • Espresso Machine and Grinder (although you could use aeropress)
  • 2x250ml Champagne coupe glasses
  • 21 g Yayu Wild Forest Geri Co-Operative, Ethiopia
  • 15g Orange Blossom Honey
  • 100ml The Botanist Islay Dry Gin
  • 60ml Grand Marnier
  • 20ml Limoncello
  • 60ml Taittinger Champagne
  • Ice
  • Shaker can
  • Strainer & sieve
  • Edible Flowers (Maddocks Farm organics)



Brew espresso to this recipe: 21g Yayu Wild Forest Geri Co-Operative, Ethiopia. Delivering 22g of espresso in 22 seconds.

Add crushed ice and Limoncello to the glasses and roll them around to coat the inside, discard the Limoncello (I recommend having it as a warm-up) Add 30ml of Champagne to each glass.

Add the gin, Grand Marnier and espresso to the shaker can, top with ice and seal with the glass. Shake vigorously until the can has frosted and the glass has cooled.

Break the seal, and double strain into the glasses. Garnish with edible flowers.

This will be like the experience of drinking Ethiopian Coffee only cold, and boozy! Up front florals, lemon acidity and a long Seville Orange Marmalade finish with a sparkly effervescent mouthfeel.





Have a great weekend everyone. I’m confident you will if you follow these simple steps!

Coffee in Good Spirits 2015

Dave_BannerDave Jameson the reigning UK Coffee in Good Spirits Champion is back again for more: follow our resident cocktail guru’s journey to this year’s Coffee in Good Spirits competition!

Last year I entered the UK Coffee In Good Spirits Championship to see what competing was like, and was surprised and overjoyed when I won. I went on to finish 9th in the World Championships in Melbourne and was firmly bitten by the competition bug. So much so that I have taken a year out of judging competitions to focus on competing. This is the story behind the drinks I will be presenting at the UK Coffee In Good Spirits Championship this year.

Geisha experiments
Part of the feedback I received last year was that although I was using outstanding coffee (Los Lajones Natural Queen Geisha), it was hard to see how good the coffee was through the ingredients I used. My first thought for this year was: how do I create a cocktail which can accurately and fairly represent Geisha and reflect the unique and special nature of how it is grown, processed and delivered?

I began to think about which drinks I perceived as being of very high value and quality – like a Geisha. I kept coming back to Champagne as the logical option. Geisha and Champagne means a seriously high-end cocktail by the end of the process!

I developed the recipe further, researching traditional Champagne cocktails, and started to look for a gin which would be a good match. I tested several gins (terribly hard work) and found that The Botanist, distilled by Bruichladdich and flavoured with 22 wild foraged botanicals from Islay, was an ideal match for my coffee. Subtle, light, delicate and floral. All World Championship cocktails have to include Grand Marnier so my recipe washed out to be 50ml gin, 30ml Grand Marnier and 45ml espresso, shaken over ice, strained and topped up with 10ml of Taittinger Champagne. The finished cocktail takes the character of the coffee – sweet, fruity, floral and sparkly – and amplifies it!


My only issue was that having spent six months developing the recipe, we had exhausted our stock of the Geisha I had been using. This prompted a fairly frantic re-evaluation of the recipe and I decided to use another coffee, the Yayu Wild Forest from the Geri cooperative in Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia.

I’m super-proud of my finished drink. It’s delicious and garnished with White Winter Borage flowers, which remind me of coffee blossom. I think it looks as good as it tastes!

Reinventing the classic Irish Coffee
Irish Coffee was created as a winter warmer to perk up passengers disembarking from a Pan Am flight to Shannon in the 1940s. It does a great job of heating you up on a miserable day, but in mid-May, at the Olympia (known to be the hottest place in London at all times) I knew it was going to be a bit difficult to make it truly enjoyable. I have been experimenting extensively with a number of coffees and a number of whiskies to try to find something I enjoy as much as the recipe I used last year. Eventually after much to-ing and fro-ing I decided to re-use the recipe, albeit with espresso instead of aeropress. There’s another subtle difference too: I am serving it cold!


We know that cold coffee works. Cold Brewed coffee has been the break-out success of the past few years, and ice blended drinks earn more for their coffee shop retailers than coffee over the summer. We also know that hot spirits can be a bit overpowering. By adding 10g of muscavado sugar syrup, 25ml of Dalmore 15 Year Old and 3 espressos made with Los Lajones Natural Caturra to a shaker, shaking until cold then layering room temperature cream on top, you make something fundamentally different and interesting. At room temperature, fats take on a really beautiful mouth-coating quality – imagine melted chocolate. By using cream which is slightly warmer you deliver unctuous luxurious mouthfeel, and by keeping the coffee cold you can taste the sweetness and the fruit as well as the best parts of the whisky. This is incredibly drinkable!

It’s quite a gamble to take this approach. Although not explicitly prohibited in the rules, I’m sure that the intention is that Irish Coffee should be hot. It could catastrophically backfire on me, or it could be a great success. I’ll let you know 😉

Thanks for following my progress this year, if you would like to know any more about any of my recipes please tweet me @davidjamesonuk

(I’ll be sharing the two cocktail recipes mentioned in this post later on this week.)


The secrets behind cupping

secrets_behind_cuppingBoth at origin as well as in the Union Quality Control Lab, devoted flavour addicts dedicate their time and taste buds to the smelling and tasting of coffee.

Buyers travel to origin in their quest for finding a unique coffee. Yet, there is so much more behind cupping than finding that unique cup on the table that makes you crave more.

The art of cupping has gained a lot of attention over the past few years. Where cupping was once done secretly behind closed doors and left to those actually buying the coffee, one can now attend free public cupping events.


The objective of cupping for a long time was to identify faults and taints in the cup. Traders and buyers cupped for defects instead of flavour characteristics. In the search for the cheapest coffee, the bare minimum standard used was rejecting defective cups. Few coffee drinkers were brand loyal. Why should they be? It was just coffee, a black liquid that kept you awake, served hot.

Companies needed to save every dime they could, and that was done by paying the lowest price possible to the grower. Keeping growers uninvolved in the process of cupping, had a clear advantage for buyers. As they determined the quality of coffee, they held the negotiation power. Without growers having the knowledge to evaluate their product, how could they improve their cup, become more empowered and negotiate quality premiums for coffee that was above average?

Fortunately, things have changed. The rise of specialty coffee and the devotion and dedication of baristas across the world has opened up the minds and taste buds of customers. The Direct Trade movement and its focus on quality has meant growers at origin have started to get involved in cupping.

My first cupping experience and class, in 2011, was at Exclusive Coffees in Costa Rica. Together with seven growers I attended a cupping course taught by Wayner Jiménez, who has probably cupped more Costa Rican coffees throughout his career than anyone else I know.

We ended the course practicing latte art. In which I was less successful than in cupping.


My first latte art ever
(I probably should stick to cupping)

After this experience I got the opportunity to travel to many countries, and cup with many producers. What have I learned?

Coffee is not just coffee. Depending on country, altitude, coffee variety and processing method there is a whole range of flavours that can be discovered in a “simple cup of coffee”. Some coffees have dark chocolate taste notes, whereas others have bright citrus-like acidities or complex fruit notes. A Sumatran coffee is something completely different from a high-grown washed Guatemalan. The rare Geisha variety can be described as having sweetness, notes of papaya, peach and a very distinct bergamot finish. Pacamaras have sweet citric notes, and are known for their complex acidity and tremendous balance.

Regular cupping with producers allows us to give them feedback on quality, negotiate price premiums and more importantly understand how much work goes into growing, processing and crafting a great coffee.


Photo of Juan Martinez

Juan Martinez -founder member of Esquipulas. Still enamoured with the scenery after a lifetime

To illustrate:
Esquipulas (La Libertad) in Guatemala has more than 200 members and each individual farmer’s lot is cupped separately. Some farmers separate their harvest in different lots depending on the location, coffee variety or harvesting time. This means hundreds of lots are cupped before blending together to create a consistent, defect-free unique flavour profile. The cupping of individual farmers lots allows cooperatives to combine attributes together into a coherent whole. This way, cooperatives can overcome inconsistency that often occur in smallholder coffees and comply with the volumes required by buyers.

Before the actual cupping can take place, samples need to be collected, sorted, roasted and rested. The table needs to be set up, including grinding and weighing the correct dose of coffee for each separate cup. The coffee’s aroma is assessed (smelling of the dry coffee grind), water is poured and after 4 minutes the cup is “broken” and smelled again. The coffee needs to be tasted throughout all its different temperatures, to examine whether the taste changes (positively or negatively). The whole process, after setting up the table, takes around 45 minutes.



View over Chirinos

In Peru, Chirinos has 620 cooperative members and a similar quality protocol. This translates into daily cupping of 48 samples, 7 days a week, for four months during the peak harvest. The different lots of each individual producer are cupped and each producer delivers at least 5 samples. During the harvest, cupping starts at 4 am!

Our producers at origin and Oli Brown in our cupping lab spend an enormous amount of time crafting and creating unique flavour profiles, by carefully assessing the flavours in each coffee. From farmer to roaster, rigorous quality control is how we can provide the best coffees available.

Better coffee, better day

A first impression can be a force to be reckoned with – remaining even in the face of contradictory facts or evidence. If your impression of the day begins with a horrendous alarm, an empty stomach, and an awful coffee – your day is likely to be a horrendous, empty, awful day. Even if your day’s filled with rainbows and glitter, you’ll see it through tinted glasses of doom and gloom.

Can a good start, a good coffee, make a good day?

Researchers at Cornell University, New York, found that “initial judgements” based on exposure to a photograph were hard to shift and coloured all future face to face interactions. The Society for Personality and Social Psychology concluded, after observing several studies, that “first impressions continue to assert themselves long after you know relevant information.” It’s interesting that such fleeting moments can alter an entire experience of a person – and our first impressions of the day are no different.

This fact, however, can be used to our advantage. Mark Twain thought that “eating a live frog first thing in the morning” means that nothing worse can happen to you throughout the day – but if that’s not quite to your palate, don’t worry. We can suggest a more positive alternative.

Brewing coffee in the morning is about so much more than the resulting cup – it’s a ritual, a routine that can provide a rewarding experience that remains throughout the day. Dopamine – a highly addictive hormone, known to be associated with reward and pleasure – is released by the brain in accordance with the completion of tasks. Further study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, has shown that repeated routines lead to dopamine “responses [that] are transferred to the task” – meaning a regular ritual can become an all-encompassing and rewarding experience.

And it gets better! A study published in the journal Current Biology found that increased levels of dopamine leads to reduced “negative expectations regarding the future”. It might not physically change how your day will play out – but will provide you with an optimistic outlook.

In Ethiopia, largely acknowledged as the birthplace of coffee, it’s an honour to be invited to the much revered coffee ceremony. The careful and purposeful laying out of equipment, followed by the attentive preparation and roasting, the repeated straining, and finally the serving – is all said to produce a result that transforms the spirit and bestows a blessing. Whilst a grand ceremony might be a bit beyond most of us, bleary-eyed in the early hours – there is something to be said for creating your own “transformational” coffee.

Jeremy, our co-founder at Union Hand Roasted, sees coffee rather “like photographic negatives – some pictures you see are very tonal, bold and emotive and there are other images that are very soft, subtle and gentle.” Any photographer will tell you of the excitement and anticipation in the process of developing film – waiting to see the end results.

Hand brewing coffee in the morning – from opening a bag of exotic produce brought in from far off countries, breathing in the smell of artisan roasted beans, to the sound of grinding that sends anticipatory tingles down the spine – creates a moment of thrill, adventure, and achievement. It’s the beginning of a routine that will enrich your morning and, by extent, your entire day.

If you’re interested, brewing equipment, guides, and exceptional coffees can all be found on our website:





Know Your Brain: Reward System (Neuroscientifically Challenged)

Dopamine Transmission in the Human Striatum during Monetary Reward Tasks (The Journal of Neuroscience)

How Dopamine Enhances an Optimism Bias in Humans (Current Biology, )

Even Fact Will Not Change Impressions (Society for Personality and Social Psychology)

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony (

Interview with Jeremy Torz (The London Coffee Festival)

Image courtesy of Pascale Schuit