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The coffee dream team

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Coffee. It’s what gets us up in the morning, keeps us going through the afternoon and shapes our cocktail choices in the evening. The classic espresso martini has been our drink of choice for years, defining the coffee-cocktail culture booming all over the country.

Now Tia Maria is raising the stakes creating a menu of innovative drinks (because it’s becoming not only acceptable, but sometimes necessary to have an espresso morning, noon and night) in an initiative called the Tia Maria + Coffee Project.

But what are the rules when it comes to merging our two favourite drink concepts? “Whatever the coffee cocktail you have in mind you should start with a high quality, well-roasted and well-brewed coffee,” Anette Moldvaer of Square Mile Coffee Roasters advises.

Whatever the coffee cocktail you have in mind you should start with a high quality, well-roasted and well-brewed coffee

“Coffee culture has risen in quality and professionalism, and now that people are realising coffee can not only be an effective pick-me-up, but also delicious, it’s only natural that it’s being increasingly used as an ingredient in food and drink recipes. Coffee is versatile and has many nuances and expressions.” Tia Maria Brand Ambassador and bartender Rod Eslamieh has been using coffee as an ingredient for ­‑ years.

“When you combine it with alcohol it’s a real winning formula,” he explains. “As a bartender, you’re passionate about working with flavours and trying to understand what works together. It’s similar with baristas. When you look at different coffees from different parts of the world, you’re getting different flavour profiles.

Some coffees are fruity, some are chocolatey, some taste of vanilla, some taste of caramel, some are aromatic. So there’s a synergy between the barista and barman – they’re both passionate about delivering the best quality drinks.”

It’s rare you will find an authentic, self-respecting cocktail bar that doesn’t know how to shake up an espresso martini. “When you start you learn all the classics, and one of those is the espresso martini,” agrees Eslamieh. “It was created in the Eighties and is still seen as an iconic drink – and is probably the one most people associate with coffee.

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For whiskey or rum-based cocktails it can be nice to complement them with a sweeter, more chocolatey coffee like one of my Guatemalan espressos.

 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.” “For cocktails with a gin base or a citrus element, I like to use a coffee that has a bit of brightness and fruit in it, like one of my Kenyan coffees,” Moldvaer says.

“For whiskey or rum-based cocktails it can be nice to complement them with a sweeter, more chocolatey coffee like one of my Guatemalan espressos.” 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.

“The Tia Groni, a twist on the Negroni, using my Red Brick espresso, has been a big hit. Tia Maria, Aperol, Hendricks gin, sweet vermouth and a half shot of freshly brewed espresso are all mixed with ice. The drink is stirred and topped off with a garnish of grapefruit zest. It’s sophisticated, refreshing and warming. Perfect to unwind with after a long day!” We’ll drink to that.

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