In case you missed it, Alejandro Mendez of El Salvador just became this year’s World Barista Champion and the first champion ever from a coffee-producing country outside the U.S. I watched his finals performance the day *after* he won via livestream and was intrigued by his signature drink, in which he attempted to reconstruct 100% of what a coffee tree produces (according to Mendez, 50% coffee beans + 30% pulp/mucilage + 20% skins and parchment).*

Dear Coffee, I Love You has a nice description of this drink, which I’ll quote below (see also the pics here):

“Alejandro’s signature drink was comprised of an infusion of coffee mucilage [unfortunate term for the coffee fruit surrounding the bean], a tea made with dried coffee flowers, and a tea made from cascara (dried coffee cherries) [specifically, the dried cherry *skins*]. The espresso used, which was separated from the crema, was a single-origin El Salvador called Finca La Illusion. It was grown by Ernesto Menendez on the slopes of the Santa Ana volcano and roasted by Steve Leighton of Has Bean Coffee in the UK.”

Judges were supposed to taste the first three ingredients separately in a particular order (coffee mucilage infusion, coffee flower tea, cascara tea) before trying them all combined with espresso made from the beans. Cool, right?

Since I couldn’t actually experience what the judges tasted, I watched the video closely instead and wrote down whatever tasting notes I could extract from what Mendez and the commentators said. The action happens pretty quickly, so it’s easy to miss little details.

1. Coffee mucilage infusion: Sweet, honey, juicy melon. Thick, syrupy watermelon juice. The cherries used were frozen the same day they were picked and presumably thawed immediately before each performance in the competition for maximum freshness.

2. Coffee flower tea: Primarily jasmine notes. The flowers were dried for 2 weeks. Only those flowers that fell onto little carpets Mendez had placed below the coffee trees for collection were kept for drying (!).

3. Cascara tea: Fruity taste and acidity. Tobacco notes. The skins were dried for 5 days (and taken exclusively from Orange Bourbon cherries). I’ve tried another El Salvadorian farm’s cascara before, and it tasted like how this one was described.

4. Espresso:  A mix of dry-processed and fully washed beans from the same crop. Shots were pulled separately (2 for each processing method) at 14 days post-roast. Mendez filtered out the crema from his shots before combining the espresso with ingredients 1-3 above.

In the end, how did this signature drink come across? Mendez described it as “balanced and sweet, with a juicy body and a refreshing finish under delicate jasmine notes.” I’ll take his word for it. Well-done!

*Fortunately for the judges, the drink didn’t contain 100% of the coffee tree itself, i.e. stems, leaves, wood, etc.!

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Comments

Submitted by jbviau on
@espressom, not just *any* tea, I hope!

Submitted by jbviau on
Saw this today on CC's site and thought I'd share: http://counterculturecoffee.com/education/online-brewing-guide/357-iced-cascara

Submitted by jbviau on
I'm with you, Eric. Mendez is on the cover of the current issue of Barista Magazine, btw: http://www.baristamagazine.com/

Submitted by wakeknot on
This is always the category that makes me pause. I always wonder if this is something that should be included in the competition or if it should really just be about the coffee.

Pretty cool, and while yes it isn't true coffee. This is something that is done so a barista can stand out like the talent part of Miss America.

Submitted by jbviau on
I think it's worth including, but maybe something could be done to cut down on the potential influence of presentation.

Submitted by jbviau on
Continuing the analogy, is the signature drink the equivalent of the swimsuit competition? ;)

The champion's signature drink

| by

In case you missed it, Alejandro Mendez of El Salvador just became this year’s World Barista Champion and the first champion ever from a coffee-producing country outside the U.S. I watched his finals performance the day *after* he won via livestream and was intrigued by his signature drink, in which he attempted to reconstruct 100% of what a coffee tree produces (according to Mendez, 50% coffee beans + 30% pulp/mucilage + 20% skins and parchment).*

Dear Coffee, I Love You has a nice description of this drink, which I’ll quote below (see also the pics here):

“Alejandro’s signature drink was comprised of an infusion of coffee mucilage [unfortunate term for the coffee fruit surrounding the bean], a tea made with dried coffee flowers, and a tea made from cascara (dried coffee cherries) [specifically, the dried cherry *skins*]. The espresso used, which was separated from the crema, was a single-origin El Salvador called Finca La Illusion. It was grown by Ernesto Menendez on the slopes of the Santa Ana volcano and roasted by Steve Leighton of Has Bean Coffee in the UK.”

Judges were supposed to taste the first three ingredients separately in a particular order (coffee mucilage infusion, coffee flower tea, cascara tea) before trying them all combined with espresso made from the beans. Cool, right?

Since I couldn’t actually experience what the judges tasted, I watched the video closely instead and wrote down whatever tasting notes I could extract from what Mendez and the commentators said. The action happens pretty quickly, so it’s easy to miss little details.

1. Coffee mucilage infusion: Sweet, honey, juicy melon. Thick, syrupy watermelon juice. The cherries used were frozen the same day they were picked and presumably thawed immediately before each performance in the competition for maximum freshness.

2. Coffee flower tea: Primarily jasmine notes. The flowers were dried for 2 weeks. Only those flowers that fell onto little carpets Mendez had placed below the coffee trees for collection were kept for drying (!).

3. Cascara tea: Fruity taste and acidity. Tobacco notes. The skins were dried for 5 days (and taken exclusively from Orange Bourbon cherries). I’ve tried another El Salvadorian farm’s cascara before, and it tasted like how this one was described.

4. Espresso:  A mix of dry-processed and fully washed beans from the same crop. Shots were pulled separately (2 for each processing method) at 14 days post-roast. Mendez filtered out the crema from his shots before combining the espresso with ingredients 1-3 above.

In the end, how did this signature drink come across? Mendez described it as “balanced and sweet, with a juicy body and a refreshing finish under delicate jasmine notes.” I’ll take his word for it. Well-done!

*Fortunately for the judges, the drink didn’t contain 100% of the coffee tree itself, i.e. stems, leaves, wood, etc.!

Category: BLOG

@intrepid510

November 11, 2011 | by jbviau

Continuing the analogy, is the signature drink the equivalent of the swimsuit competition? ;)

@Wakeknot

November 11, 2011 | by jbviau

I think it's worth including, but maybe something could be done to cut down on the potential influence of presentation.

Pretty cool, and while yes

November 10, 2011 | by intrepid510

Pretty cool, and while yes it isn't true coffee. This is something that is done so a barista can stand out like the talent part of Miss America.

signature drink

October 28, 2011 | by wakeknot

This is always the category that makes me pause. I always wonder if this is something that should be included in the competition or if it should really just be about the coffee.

True

August 26, 2011 | by jbviau

I'm with you, Eric. Mendez is on the cover of the current issue of Barista Magazine, btw: http://www.baristamagazine.com/

How Original

August 14, 2011 | by EricBNC


This kind of creativity deserves recognition - awesome!

Iced cascara recipe

July 1, 2011 | by jbviau

Saw this today on CC's site and thought I'd share: http://counterculturecoffee.com/education/online-brewing-guide/357-iced-cascara

Ooh

June 8, 2011 | by jbviau

@espressom, not just *any* tea, I hope!

Intriguing description. Will

June 7, 2011 | by espressom

Intriguing description. Will try tea with espresso.

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