There’s a little bit of blasphemy involved in taking a shot of perfectly good whiskey and mixing it with a ristretto—and yet, we now have an entirely new category just for it at the Philippine Coffee Championships. The Curator’s Yassie Lorenzo stepped up as the country’s first champion with two imaginative drinks embracing the best of two modern-day addictions.
Lorenzo’s play on Irish coffee puts together some Panama Carmen Estate brewed coffee, Purple Haze Ristretto and Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey. She tops it with charred orange cream and grated cured egg yolk—make sure to take two sips at a time for an interesting play of temperatures. Her cold drink, on the other hand, is a confounding yet refreshing combination of Purple Haze Double Ristretto, Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey, egg white, and grapefruit juice.
At an Afternoon with Teeling Whiskey, we had a quick chat with Lorenzo about her coffee cocktails, her beginnings as a barista, and her opinion on coffee culture in the Philippines.
How did you start working with both coffee and alcohol?
Well, I was originally a barista. So I worked at two places before The Curator exposed me to working with cocktails. At The Curator, of course, exposed ka sa dalawa.
Is there a certain kind of alcohol that tends to go better with coffee?
For me, I like coffee with whiskey. So Irish whiskey and scotch—but my personal favorite is bourbon. Coffee also works with dark rum. So more on the dark spirits. That’s my opinion.
How did you come up with your drinks for the Philippine Coffee Championships?
‘Yung concept ang unang inisip ko. I thought of sustainability. In the coffee world, the topic of sustainability is a bit sensitive, since it’s usually up to the farmers. But as a barista, what can I do? How can I utilize the ingredients dito sa Curator? Siguro ‘yung thinking took a month, and then R&D was about two weeks. Tapos iyong routine, one week before the competition. Tas nagkasakit ako! I was hospitalized because of too much coffee in good spirits, ha ha!
Yeah! I had too much coffee, since I work at 6am. Of course, I have my usual coffee, and then I have to stay awake during the night while I’m developing the drinks, so I take more. Then I would sometimes drink afterwards and go out. Because of that, nawala ako for three to four days because I was feeling really weak. As soon as I felt na 100% na ako, since ilang days before the competition na—well, luckily, I won.
Congratulations, by the way. Do you have observations about how we treat coffee in the Philippines?
We’re a little thriftier than other countries. Not everyone would spend that much on the coffee we serve at The Curator, so they’d opt for other options—like ‘yung mga mabilis, or ’yung mas malaki iyong sizes, para mas sulit. But quality kasi, iyong okay, doon sa Curator. Medyo blessed ako to be a part of it—to educate people that they can drink better. Also sa value, magaganda. So iyon ‘yung naoobserve ko. In other countries, people will pay talaga. Here, people are quite thrifty unless they’re educated about it.
Do you have any advice for people who want to try their hand at coffee cocktails?
Learn the basics first for both coffee and alcohol. For coffee, karaniwan na base for cocktails is espresso—medyo complicated. Watch YouTube videos, or just go to The Curator and ask us. For cocktails, you need your tools and know basic alcohols that work with coffee when you mix them together. Just try to think of flavors that would go well together, but also try to think outside of the box—sometimes, surprisingly, they’re great together. I hope people can be more open-minded about the combination. Other people are like, kapag iyong cocktail, linagyan mo ng coffee, that’s coffee na. ‘Yung iba, ‘pag coffee at linagyan mo ng alcohol, that’s a cocktail. But they can be one!