Preparing Zero-Waste Coffee Cocktails with Christos Klouvatos

We chat with Greece’s Coffee In Good Spirits Champion, Christos Klouvatos, to learn more about preparing zero-waste coffee cocktails. 

BY VASILEIA FANARIOTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT

Photos courtesy of Christos Klouvatos 

Zero-waste coffee cocktails are becoming increasingly popular among baristas and mixologists alike. They offer a unique drinking experience with an eco-friendly twist. In this article, we’ll explore how to prepare zero-waste coffee cocktails with the help of Christos Klouvatos, an award-winning barista/mixologist from Greece and winner of the 2022 Hellenic Coffee In Good Spirits Championship. 

Coffee In Good Spirits: The Zero-Waste Approach 

Zero-waste coffee cocktails are based on a philosophy that promotes reducing the amount of waste created and emphasizing the use of sustainable materials. Using coffee grounds, shells, peels, and other food waste that would otherwise be discarded or composted, zero-waste coffee cocktails provide an environmentally friendly way to enjoy your favorite beverages. 

Christos is Greece’s back-to-back champion of the Hellenic Coffee In Good Spirits Championship and a great proponent of zero-waste cocktails. After competing in the championship for the first time in 2019, he worked hard to perfect his craft. Christos achieved first place in the 2020 competition. This allowed him to represent Greece at the World Coffee In Good Spirits Championship in Milan, where he placed sixth.  

Christos stands in front of a camera with other winners at the Hellenic Coffee in Good Spirits Championship. He has a beard and short hair, and wears a white shirt, gray pants, and leather shoes. He is holding up his award, which is a black and white framed certificate.
Christos has won the Hellenic Coffee In Good Spirits Championship two years in a row. 

Following his success, he won the championship again this year and is ready to represent Greece at the 2023 World Coffee In Good Spirits Championship in Taiwan. 

Christos works as a barista and mixologist at the high-end bar Line in Athens. Line has just been voted amongst the best 50 bars in the world and follows a zero-waste philosophy. 

“The most inspirational thing about zero-waste philosophy is that you can use ingredients and the leftovers in so many different ways, or even produce new ingredients and flavors that you couldn’t even imagine. It is an environmentally friendly philosophy that teaches you to think outside the box and also respect small things and the environment around you,” he says. 

Christos pours cold coffee from a glass bottle into a jigger to measure it for a cocktail. Behind him is an espresso machine. In front of him is a selection of syrups for bar use, all with pour spouts attached.
Christos studied English Literature, but during his studies, he fell in love with coffee while working as a barista. 

The Challenges and Benefits of Making Zero-Waste Cocktails 

Creating a zero-waste coffee cocktail requires a greater level of creativity and technique than making a regular cocktail. Finding the right balance between taste and sustainability can be a challenging task, so it’s important to experiment with different techniques and recipes. According to Christos, the most difficult part of making a zero-waste cocktail is to reset the way you think and break the rules.  

”Working with a zero-waste mentality helped me use techniques without electricity or create cordials or even garnishes from the leftovers of my basic ingredients. For example, I may use the fruit leftovers to create a powder or even make kombuchas and fermented ingredients. Understanding fermentation and cooking techniques that chefs are using is a great tool to experiment and find more solutions on how to treat the ingredients in order to get the most out of them,” he says. 

A Trip to Vineyards was a coffee cocktail submitted at the World Coffee In Good Spirits Championship in Milan in June 2022.

The bottom line is that zero-waste cocktails can be challenging yet rewarding. Not only do you reduce waste and save money, but you also create one-of-a-kind drink experiences and flavor profiles. Incorporating zero-waste practices into your bar or restaurant can also help you build a more sustainable and eco-friendly business. 

Two Recipes To Get You Started 

I asked Christos to provide two recipe ideas to get readers started on the zero-waste cocktail journey. The first is a coffee cocktail using fresh lime peels and brown sugar.  

“You can start by preparing oleo-saccharum syrup by combining lime peels and brown sugar in a bowl. Then add some fresh lime juice to dilute the sugar. Place the leftovers in a tray and dry them in an oven, then grind them into a powder. Add some bourbon whiskey or aged rum, along with some fresh peach syrup made from fresh peaches and white sugar, and top it off with a fruity cold-brew coffee. Finally, you can use the powder leftovers to garnish your glass or rim it. Add ice in your glass, stir, and you will have a delicious sweet ’n’ sour cocktail to enjoy!” 

In a Collins glass, a sparkling black zero-waste honey coffee cocktail has an amber color and a papery sugar garnish on top.
The Sparkling Black Honey is a coffee cocktail created for Barista Magazine’s readers.

The second cocktail is called Sparkling Black Honey. I visited Line to try this one out, and I can assure you it is delicious. You can start by making a batch of cold-brew coffee; Christos uses Hariti from Ethiopia, roasted by TAF. Then add aged rum, orange honey solution, and carbonation. Garnish with the leftover coffee and honey.  

This is a refreshing cocktail that you can enjoy anytime, perfect for brunch or on a night out. As for the ratios, Christos recommends experimenting with different ingredients and amounts to find the balance that best suits your taste. So go ahead and get creative with your zero-waste cocktails! 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a senior online correspondent for Barista Magazine, and a freelance copywriter and editor with a primary focus on the coffee niche. She has also been a volunteer copywriter for the I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, providing content to help educate people about baristas and their work. You can follow her adventures at thewanderingbean.net.

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