Tia Maria is proving that a caffeine kick isn’t just for the mornings A man who orders a double espresso knows what he wants out of life. He’s saying: “I need this powerful caffeine injection because I was up all night doing things the likes of which you can’t even imagine.” And the Espresso Martini means we even get to enjoy that kick of strong coffee on a night out.
The quality of coffee has got so much better, and when you combine it with alcohol it’s a real winning formula
Now, Tia Maria has launched the Tia Maria + Coffee Project to create a new range of innovative coffee-based cocktails to add to the menu. “The quality of coffee has got so much better, and when you combine it with alcohol it’s a real winning formula,” explains Tia Maria Brand Ambassador and bartender Rod Eslamieh.
“As a bartender, you’re always passionate about working with flavours and trying to understand what works together. There’s a similar thing with baristas. When you look at different coffees from different parts of the world, you’re getting different flavour profiles. Some are fruity, some are chocolatey, some are vanilla, some are caramel, some are aromatic. So there’s a synergy between the barista and the barman – they’re both passionate about using their knowledge to deliver the best quality drinks.”
Anette Moldvaer of Square Mile Coffee Roasters agrees: “Coffee-café culture has risen in quality and professionalism, and now that people are realising coffee can not only be effective, but also delicious, it’s only natural that its standing as an ingredient to be explored is also on the rise in food and other beverages. It’s versatile and has many nuances.”
And as you’ll no doubt know, coffee in cocktails has a long and illustrious history. “I’ve used coffee in cocktails ever since I was a barman, and I’ve worked in the industry for about 15 years,” reveals Eslamieh. “When you start you learn all the classics, and one of those is the Espresso Martini. It was created in the Eighties and is still seen as an iconic drink – and it’s probably the one most people associate with coffee. I didn’t think of it as such an important ingredient then as I do now.
Tia Maria, being coffee and rum-based, is a great component in any coffee cocktail due to its finely balanced qualities of flavour and sweetness.
It’s only really in the past few years that I’ve started thinking of it seriously as an ingredient, as the quality of coffee improved. And it’s not just here [in the UK], it’s all over the world. Some of these baristas are practically rock stars.” So as the coffee can make a big difference to a cocktail’s taste, selecting the right beans is key. “I like to use a coffee that has a bit of brightness and fruit in it, like one of my Kenyan coffees, if I’m working with a gin base or with citrus,” says Moldvaer.
“For whisky or rum-based cocktails it can be nice to complement with a sweeter, more chocolatey coffee, like a Guatemalan espresso.” And of course, there’s Tia Maria. “Tia Maria, being coffee and rum-based, is a great component in any coffee cocktail due to its finely balanced qualities of flavour and sweetness.”
“We do a great drink called the Mint Americano,” adds Eslamieh. “It has Tia Maria and a double shot of espresso, topped with sparkling water and a few fresh mint leaves. It was one of our biggest hits at London Cocktail Week. The best cocktails keep it simple, then you get all the flavours coming through. It’s the perfect marriage between Tia Maria and espresso.” So be sure to add some caffeine, and Tia Maria, to your cocktail.