Dan Fellows on Successfully Defending His WCIGS Title: Part Two

We continue our conversation with Dan Fellows of the United Kingdom, the 2019 World Coffee In Good Spirits (WCIGS) champion.


Cover photo courtesy of World Coffee Events

From the editor: This year, the World Coffee Championships in Berlin crowned four new champions, and we have been chatting with them for Barista Magazine Online. Our first installment of this four-part series can be found here with 2019 World Cup Tasters champ Daniel Horbat. Yesterday we published part one of our interview with 2019 World Coffee In Good Spirits champ Dan Fellows, where he discussed his decision to defend his title and how he approached the 2019 season. Today, we conclude our interview with Dan by discussing his specific WCIGS drinks and looking toward the future.

Dan’s cold beverage, the Frozen Natural Experiment, featured Frozen Natural processed coffee from Finca San Antonio and explored the effects of freezing temperatures on ingredients like grapes, blood oranges, and coffee. Photo courtesy of Dan Fellows.

Chris Ryan: How did you get interested in the Frozen Natural process showcased in your cold drink, and how did you put that drink together?

Dan Fellows: The Frozen Natural process was inspired by two of my favourite ingredients: ice wine and blood oranges. Both of these are given distinctive characteristics by cold temperatures (blood oranges develop the blood red colour and raspberry-like sweetness when they reach cold temperatures overnight, and ice wine is made by squeezing grapes that have frozen), which inspired me to explore the effect of freezing temperatures on coffee.

In order to do so, I approached Carlos and Patricia Pola [at Finca San Antonio in El Salvador], who froze Red Pacamara coffee cherries for seven days before natural processing. The resultant cup profile was very sweet and had flavour notes of raspberry and tropical fruit, and worked perfectly in the drink when paired with ice wine, Glenfiddich Winter Storm (finished in ice wine casks), blood orange ice, malic acid, and cascara syrup.

Can you talk about how you came up with the sticky toffee inspiration for your Irish Coffee drink? Why did you think the flavors of that dessert would be a good match with Irish coffee?

The idea for this drink began with a coffee. One of the best coffees I tried last year was produced by the Mierisch family on their farm Cerro Azul in Honduras. This was a natural Gesha, but I had also been enjoying a black honey processed coffee from Costa Rica, and approached Erwin Mierisch Jr. to bring these amazing coffees together and to black honey process the Cerro Azul “Casona” Gesha in early 2019. Erwin and the team kindly agreed to do so despite having never carried out this process before, and the end result blew my mind. The coffee had flavour notes of dried fruit such as raisin and fig, as well as plum and a molasses-like sweetness with a sticky texture when brewed at high strength. These characteristics inspired me to build a “sticky toffee pudding” profile for my Irish Coffee. 

I paired the coffee with two of the most amazing whiskies I have had the chance to try, which are both exclusively aged in a single barrel, something which is not particularly common in whisky production. The first is Kavalan Solist, which is aged in an ex-Pedro Ximenez barrel, and the second is Glenfiddich Age of Discovery Bourbon Cask; the whiskies paired to bring notes of vanilla, sticky raisin, and toffee. I blended light and dark muscovado sugar to control the balance and characteristics of the sweetness, and finished the drink with The Estate Dairy double cream from Somerset, England. 

Dan Fellows (third from left) with the producers behind the coffee he used at WCIGS: (From left) Carlos and Patricia Pola and Edwin Mierisch Jr. Photo courtesy of Dan Fellows.

How does it feel to win WCIGS not once, but twice? What do you plan to do in the future?

Seven years ago when I designed my first coffee cocktail, I could never have imagined that I would become a world champion, never mind twice. It is a huge privilege to be in such a position, and I am incredibly proud to have had so many people say that I have inspired them! 

In terms of the future, I have lots of exciting plans! As of the end of September, I will be solely focusing on trying to help as many people as I can whilst developing some exciting new products. In the next year, I plan to travel the world hosting coffee cocktail events, master classes, and pop-up bars, as well as involving myself in competitions through coaching, judging, and many more ways! Anyone who is interested, feel free to get in touch at @danfellows1. I am excited to see what the future holds! 

About Chris Ryan 259 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.