A Spirited Competition: Getting to Know Dan Fellows, Reigning World CIGS Champion

In this series we learn more about Coffee In Good Spirits, a competition that challenges baristas to make delicious coffee + alcohol beverages. Here we profile Dan Fellows of the United Kingdom, who won the 2018 World CIGS Championship in Brazil.

BY CHRIS RYAN
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Cover photo by Joel Smedley

Since 2005, the World Coffee In Good Spirits Championship has challenged competitors to make delicious beverages combining coffee and alcohol. In this series on Barista Magazine Online, we get to know the competition and talk to some of the organizers, champions, and others who have helped bring it to life. Read other installments in the series hereand here.

Seven years ago, Dan Fellows stood on the World Coffee In Good Spirits Championship stage during the final round in Seoul, and things did not go as planned. Due to a malfunction of the brewing device he was using to make coffee for his cocktails, he did not have the performance he wanted, and placed fourth in the competition.

However, the UK coffee competitor, who serves as head of wholesale for Cornwall-based Origin Coffee, didn’t quit. He continued to compete, and in 2016 won the UK Barista Championship and made it to the semifinals at the World Barista Championship in Dublin. In 2018, he again took part in the World Coffee In Good Spirits Championship—this time in Belo Horizonte, Brazil—and this time it went much better, as Dan Fellows won the 2018 World CIGS Championship.

Dan Fellows is the current World Coffee In Good Spirits champion.

We talked to Dan about how he started working in coffee, what he has learned from competition, and what he loves about the CIGS competition.

Chris Ryan: Can you tell me a bit about your coffee background? When did you start working in coffee, and how long have you worked with Origin?

Dan Fellows: It all started on my 18th birthday. I was working as a chef in my home town of St Ives and was invited to work on the bar that evening. As well as a fantastic cocktail menu, the bar had an amazing coffee offering. This was a huge turning point for me, as it introduced me to the amazing worlds of coffee and cocktails and gave me the foundational skill on which I have since built.

When I moved to study management at the University of York in 2012, I began working with Origin Coffee. I had grown to love their coffee in my previous roles, and I eventually progressed to the job I have now as head of wholesale.

A chance encounter behind the bar led Dan to explore the beverage world and the intersection between coffee and cocktails.

How long have you been taking part in coffee competitions, and what have you learned from them?

I began competing in 2012, winning the UK Coffee In Good Spirits Championship and entering my first barista championship. After a disaster with an AeroPress in the World Coffee In Good Spirits finals in Seoul that year, I had to refocus and continued to gain experience and develop my skills, winning the UK Barista Championship in 2016.

Whilst practicing for the World Barista Championship in Dublin, I learned many important lessons. The key lessons I learned were to begin preparations at the very earliest opportunity to ensure I am completely prepared, and to retain balance between life and competition by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. After finishing ninth at the WBC in 2016, the lessons I learned set me up for my eventual World Coffee In Good Spirits Championship win in Brazil.

“In my opinion, Coffee In Good Spirits allows baristas and bartenders the highest level of creativity across all of the World Coffee Championships. In order to create the best drinks, baristas and bartenders must have a deep understanding of every ingredient they use,” Dan says.

What drew you to want to compete in Coffee In Good Spirits? What is interesting to you about the intersection between coffee and cocktails? 

I have always loved both coffee and cocktails, and see many similarities and connections between the two. It was the opportunities to create new and interesting concepts, flavour profiles, and relationships between the worlds of coffee and cocktails that continue to inspire me to this day.

Why do you think the Coffee In Good Spirits Championship is an important competition for baristas? Why is it a good test of baristas skills? 

In my opinion, Coffee In Good Spirits allows baristas and bartenders the highest level of creativity across all of the World Coffee Championships. In order to create the best drinks, baristas and bartenders must have a deep understanding of every ingredient they use, why it is in the drink, and how the ingredients interact.

Now that it has been some months since you won the World CIGS, can you describe what it means to you to have won the competition?

Since winning WCIGS 2018 in Brazil, my life has been a whirlwind in the best way possible! I have been fortunate to travel across the world showcasing coffee cocktails and hope to encourage as many baristas and bartenders to embrace the endless possibilities of coffee cocktails and to connect the two amazing worlds.

About Chris Ryan 236 Articles
Chris Ryan (he/him) is Barista Magazine's online copy editor and a freelance writer and editor with a background in the specialty coffee industry. He has been content director of Sustainable Harvest and the editor of Fresh Cup Magazine.