• 11.-13. October 2021
  • Exhibition Centre Berlin

25th of August 2021, by Damien Guichard

"In Good Spirits With" with Nicole Battefeld-Montgomery on Coffee and Cocktails

The sixth live talk session of “In Good Spirits With”, hosted by BCB Ambassador Damen Guichard, is now available on demand in our IGTV section.

As we get closer and closer to the physical version of BCB – we are finally coming back in October – it is with immense joy that we are able to introduce some of the concepts that are going to be present at this year's BCB. In the last episode of "In Good Spirits With" we were talking about Coffee in Good Spirits Competition which is a coffee and cocktail competition. It is the first time that Bar Convent Berlin hosts a German final of Coffee and Good Spirits.

On 11 October 2021 the participants will present their skills in various disciplines and variations in front of a jury of experts on the BCB Liquid Stage. The competition is not only a scene for exciting new coffee and spirit creations, it also regularly sets new standards for the preparation and symbiosis of coffee and bar culture. It is not unlikely for the winning cocktail to become a new standard that can be found in many bars nationally and internationally.

So why do we need to talk about coffee and cocktails – and coffee as a cocktail ingredient? We have someone amazing joining our IGTV in the person of Nicole Battefeld-Montgomery who is one of the international finalists of the competition in 2019, the last to take place physically. We had a little chat with Nicole, who is an outstanding barista, about the competition itself but also about coffee as an ingredient.

 

Damien: Welcome Nicole – Please tell us a couple of words about yourself.

Nicole: I am a barista, roaster, trainer and competitor in the specialty coffee industry. I am currently living in Berlin. My first competition was in 2016, and in 2018 I won the German Barista Championship. In 2019, I competed again and “only” took third place. I was devastated and thought by myself “Oh no! There must be something else I can do!” – and so I competed in Coffee Good Spirits. In this competition I placed fifth, which is very exciting. Due to corona, this was unfortunately the last time I participated in a competition. Since then I’ve dived a bit deeper into the whole cocktail scene.

 

 

What is required to be qualified and ultimately to win the competition?

Nicole: First of all, this competition is not only for baristi, but also for bartenders, because the challenge is to combine perfectly prepared coffees with selected spirits in order to create outstanding drinks. The preliminary round is split into two parts: the Spirit Bar and the Stage Presentation. In the stage performance, the participants have to prepare a total of four drinks in ten minutes. Two identical cold and two identical hot designer drinks in which coffee and alcohol are used. The participants are free to choose the type of coffee they prepare in one of the two categories. In the other, the espresso machine must be used. In the final round, which consists only of a stage performance, the candidates have to mix four drinks in ten minutes. The jury evaluates the technical performance of the participants, how clean they work, how the drink is visually served, the appearance as a host and of course the taste. The participant who collects the most points becomes "German Coffee in Good Spirit Champion".

 

It is a very demanding competition, with the variety of challenges you are facing, not only as a barista but also as a bartender! As a barista, how do you start mixing coffee with alcohol?

Nicole: My background is a bit different. I qualified as a chef, and I also used to work as a chef. I have no idea about cocktails, to be honest. I had never held a cocktail shaker in my hands until I started training. I had no idea what comes in an Espresso Martini. And so, I started experimenting with coffee and alcohol and this is how the journey began.

What is the worst coffee-based drink you can think of?

Nicole: I think it's interesting because if people would start using high-quality coffee, no matter what cocktail they make, it would be the best drink ever. Because coffee is so delicious when combined with alcohol. I can't name one in particular, but it's usually bad coffee that's used in a cocktail. For example, you can make an Espresso Martini and it tastes like garbage. But you can make the same drink with high-quality ingredients and it tastes like the most delicious thing you've ever had in your life. It's not the cocktails, it's the ingredients you choose that make a good drink.

 

How would you choose a coffee and what is important when picking a coffee as a bartender? What do I need to look out for?

Nicole: I think your first thought should be: How should the coffee be prepared? For example: Do I need an espresso or filter coffee? Do I need a higher extraction or should I just lightly brew the drink? Or even just the volume - How much volume do I need? My second approach – think about two aspects: Body and sweetness. You always need a counterpart for the alcohol. Alcohol is an incredibly strong ingredient in a drink. So, it's hard to find a good coffee that balances out the drink. Bartenders often tend to drown out the coffee flavor with the alcohol. To achieve this balance, I would always recommend a naturally fermented coffee.

How many main fermentation processes are there? And how do they influence the taste?

Nicole: You have to ferment coffee before you can use it, because otherwise it is just in a cherry. Washed coffees are always a little bit clearer, they have a cleaner taste. Natural coffees are always a little bit more on the sweeter side. They have berry flavors, like strawberries or blueberries. But if you want to add coffee in a drink as a bitter, cleaner, clearer taste profile to your drink I suggest washed coffee. Long story short: If bartenders start investing their money in coffees, they will taste the difference.

 

Last but not least:

Nicole: We should pay more for coffee because there are so many people working on this product. You also have to keep in mind that it is a seasonal product. There are only three months in Ethiopia or Kenya when you can get coffee beans. Perhaps, that’s another reason coffee is underrated, unlike wine production, which is more of a European thing. The coffee industry is based on slave labor in South America, Africa or Asia. Europeans came and used slaves on the farms. I don't know how many lives depend on coffee, but I've heard that about 5 million people work in agriculture with coffee. So many of them live below the poverty line because we don't spend enough money on these products. Consumption habits have an impact on how people are treated, and it's always important to keep that aspect in mind when it comes to coffee prices.

 

Want to know more? Our pro Nicole spills even more (coffee) beans on our IG Channel. 

 Deutsche Coffee In Good Spirits Meisterschaften - SCA Germany

© Laura Dosse