Ringing in a New Year with Coffee Cocktails in Colorado

Creative cocktail concoctions showcased local talent at Colorado Coffee Collective’s holiday competition.

To encourage exploration, Colorado Coffee Collective—a volunteer organization connecting the Colorado coffee community—hosted a Coffee Cocktail Competition and Latte Art Throwdown in December at Bean Cycle Coffee Roasters in Fort Collins. Stakes were high: a $1000 Cocktail Competition prize from DaVinci Gourmet, and a $500 Latte Art Grand Prize from Beagle Coffee Co. and Ally Coffee Merchants drew a crowd. Levi Andersen of DaVinci Gourmet whipped up ‘Irish Coffees’ for onlookers, and additional prizes and libations from Barista Magazine, Topo Designs, Mobb Distilling, Odell and New Belgium made for a fantastic evening.

The latte art throwdown featured awesome pours. Matt Stevens from Thump Coffee Roasters in Denver took third place; Kasey Headley from Evocation Coffee in Amarillo, Texas took second place; and Carlye Sayler of Bean Cycle Coffee Roasters in Fort Collins walked with the championship title to both competitions! The night also featured a coffee cocktail competition, and below we focus on the cocktail champs—their recipes, creative processes and thoughts on the industry.

The winners of the latte art competition.

First Place – Carlye Sayler of Bean Cycle Coffee Roasters in Fort Collins.

As a barista in one of the city’s oldest cafes, using a coffee from one of the city’s newest roasters, Carlye’s win at the cocktail competition meant a lot for Fort Collins’ growing coffee scene. “Once I tried Beagle’s Kenyan coffee, I was really excited to create a cocktail that highlighted the coffee’s wine and dark fruit flavors. I was very impressed with everyone else at the competition—competitors were very involved with each of their ingredients. My process focused on taste and creativity, building each component around flavors naturally found in the coffee. Iliki means cardamom in Swahili; cardamom is my favorite spice, and I felt it really complemented the currant flavor in my cocktail.”

Carlye serving samples of her winning drink.

Carlye loved the customer draw created by the competition’s cocktail component, and is excited to see the Colorado coffee community expand outside of Denver. “It was great to see how many people came to this event. Everyone’s really excited about each other, building up other participants instead of just trying to be the best. To me, this feels unique to the coffee industry: we are competitive, but not in ways that keep us from wanting to see each other succeed.”

Carlye’s Cocktail: Iliki No. 5

70g Beagle Coffee Co. Kenyan AB Gondo
25g Bulleit Bourbon
1 tsp Currant Cardamom Simple Syrup
1/4 tsp Black Walnut Extract
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Shake with ice, strain and serve up in small coupe glass with an orange twist.

The judges had a lot of drinks to evaluate, all highlighting the way in which coffee and spirits work together.

Second Place – Kristyn Wade of Corvus Coffee Roasters in Denver.

A Denver transplant from Houston, TX, Kristyn is loving life in the Colorado coffee scene. “In Colorado, I feel like we all have a bond of wanting to grow coffee together. We have fun competing. There’s been a lot of national coffee competitors from Colorado: Tyler Hill, Elle Taylor, and Derrick Wessels have kind of been leading the way.” Girl power at the ready (and in the same vein at The Coffeewoman events), Kristyn helped organize Cherry Roast with Elle Taylor at Amethyst Coffee this year, “as a way for women to have the realization that they can totally compete—you’re worth sponsoring, you’re totally able to compete, and there’s no wrong or right way to do it.” Kristyn’s cocktail accentuated the mouthfeel of steamed cold brew, and took a Colorado lifestyle approach with vegan, health conscious ingredients.

Kristyn Wade, the runner up, chose to make a drink with lighter, healthier ingredients.

Kristyn’s Cocktail – Coconuts By The Fireside

3oz Corvus Coffee Single Origin Bottled Rwandan Cold Brew
3oz Housemade Almond Cashew Milk
1/2oz Coconut Oil
1oz Maple Syrup
1oz Light Rum
Cinnamon, Nutmeg & Allspice to taste
Steam coconut oil, nut milk and cold brew together. Pour over maple syrup and rum in a mug. Garnish with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

Third Place – Taylor Ashley of Building Three Coffee Roasters in Colorado Springs.

Thriving as a barista in Colorado Springs, Taylor has recently developed a strong passion for creating unique coffee drinks for people to enjoy. “The Colorado Springs’ coffee scene is the most collaborative in the state. When you go to a shop, you’re going to hear, “Have you been to this shop? And this shop?’ We’re all family basically—we’re all trying to ensure the best for each other and create an environment and atmosphere where craft coffee is appreciated and valued. A lot of great people have joined the scene because of that and we’re always advocating for other shops.” A clever play on his name, Taylor’s cocktail took first place at a recent coffee mocktail competition held at The Wild Goose Meeting House in Colorado Springs.

Taylor Ashley is inspired by how collaborative and quick to share the Colorado Springs coffee community is.

Taylor’s Cocktail – FiesTay

4oz Building Three Guatemala Toddy Cold Brew
1oz Housemade Vanilla Syrup
2oz Lee Spirits Gin Fuego
Juice of ½ a lime
Rim a rocks glass with lime and sugar. Shake all ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice – strain into rocks glass and serve neat.

Brimming with ambition, sarcasm, and caffeinated zeal, Sadie Renee  is fascinated by all things beverage and the extraordinary humans that make them. A KCMO native loving life in Fort Collins, Colo., she spends most of her time drinking extravagant amounts of coffee and planning the next  Caffeine Crawl  for  The LAB. When she’s not on a plane to a beverage destination, you can find her conducting research at a local brewery or pouring the occasional latte behind the bar at  Everday Joe’s Coffehouse. After she lets her dog take her for a long, vivacious walk around the neighborhood, she likes to soak up some mountain magic and wind down with a good cocktail.  

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