Stop. Collaborate and listen

In the pursuit of caffeine-spiked sponge, creamy coffee stout and bean-steeped gin, speciality roasters and bean alchemists are creatively collaborating with other artisan businesses. We explore some of the indie outfits fuelling our unconventional caffeine kicks

Feature from the South West and South Wales Independent Coffee Guide No 4 – buy your copy here.

Craft coffee

Wickedly smooth, indulgently creamy and concealing a caffeinated kick – coffee stouts have been riding high on the dark stuff’s resurgence, with every craft brewery in town bringing out a bean-brewed hybrid.

With so many parallels between the brewing and roasting industries, it was inevitable that we’d collaborate to create something delicious,’ explains Josh Clarke, head of coffee at Clifton Coffee.

It’s a no-brainer as most of the people who care about how coffee is crafted have the same view about their weekend bevvies. As the craft beer revolution is a couple of years ahead of speciality, these partnerships are also introducing great coffee to a new audience.

We’ve worked with a number of local breweries who’ve come to Clifton with an idea for a new brew. Depending on the style of beer and the flavours they’re looking to create, we’ll match one of our coffees to their vision or go hunting for something else that works. For Wildebeest, our mash-up with local brewery Wild Beer Co, we picked a fruity, natural Ethiopian which suits the stout’s sweet vanilla and cacao characteristics.

The guys at the Bristol roastery aren’t the only ones hopping on the hype. Dorset roaster Finca recently teamed up with local brewery Gyle 59 to create Brad’s Coffee Stout after a chance encounter at the Dorchester coffee shop.

Having recently been converted to coffee by the staff at Finca, it made sense to try combining it with beer,’ says Bradley Ware of Gyle 59. Head roaster and Finca owner Don Iszatt knew the bean for the job, selecting a full bodied Agustino Forest coffee with ‘caramel and cocoa characteristics packing enough punch for a stout.

Carmarthenshire’s Coaltown has been at it too, collaborating with Crafty Devil Brewery in Cardiff to produce its amazingly moreish Safe as Milk, which co-owner Scott hopes to stock and serve from the new roastery cafe when it opens in March 2018.

That’s the spirit

It’s not just brews and beers that have been getting cosy. Speciality coffee’s also been flirting with the thrills of distillation.

Teaming up with down-the-road distillery Psychopomp, Bristol’s Playground Coffee House has co-created the first small batch gin which uses coffee as a botanical.

The idea came from my quest to create the best espresso martini,’ explains Playground’s Fabian Dryden. ‘After hours of scrolling through Google I couldn’t find anyone else who was using coffee to make gin. One of the distillers from Psychopomp is a regular at the coffee shop, so we decided to give it a go.

Road testing the speciality spirit in a micro still, the guys hit the sweet spot first time and moved the operation over to the daddy distiller. The heady mix of botanicals in their recipe consists of cascara, peony tea, grapefruit, star anise, juniper and cassia bark, along with whole Kenyan coffee beans from Colonna Coffee in Yate.

We chose Colonna’s Tegu beans as they’re packed with exciting fruity flavours to complement the gin’s delicate floral fragrance without being too heavy,’ adds Fabian.

Grown-up caffeine kicks can be sampled in a range of coffee-infused cocktails or straight up as a G&T at the convivial coffee house on St Nicholas Street. We’d recommend going next level negroni with the cold brew and Playground Gin compilation.

Hitting the sweet spot

The marriage of coffee and cake is more #couplegoals than Kim and Kanye and, thankfully for us, there’s a troop of sweet saviours keeping our quality caffeine and sugar levels topped up in equal measure.

You know that chunk of espresso cheesecake brownie you devoured before your AeroPress reached the table last week? There’s a good chance that was made by Cakesmiths – a crack team of Bristol bakers stocking coffee shop counters across the region with killer cakes and next level traybakes.

We’ve taken the time to source the best ingredients for our handmade cakes, so it would be madness to back down when it came to the coffee,’ explains chief cake pusher, Tom Batlle.

The Village espresso blend from local roaster Clifton is our go-to for mocha walnut loaf and espresso brownies. Its subtly sweet cocoa and nutty tones add a brilliant flavour to the bakes while, as a slightly darker roast, it holds up against the quality chocolate.


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