The first post I ever wrote was on negative smells, Burnt Toast, at the end of that I mentioned that I’m taking on a project to develop a method of making some sort of aroma spray/additive to enhance espressos. The idea being it would give customers a strong impression of how the coffee will taste before it ever reaches their mouths, preferably it would look cool too.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with this. Primarily trying stuff out for the UKBCs as part of my signature drink, I’ve tried to create something to mimic and amplify the aroma of the espresso. After trying a whole bunch of stuff I’m now on the verge of giving up.
Partly the reason I’m struggling is because the rules of the World Barista Championship dictate that you cannot use any form of alcohol or alcohol by-product in the drink. Using alcohol would make the task much easier since you can extract flavour/aroma much more effectively and also use liquors as the liquid. This can’t be done in competition and likely isn’t a great idea in a coffee shop either, lots of people cannot have alcohol.
Other common methods of amplifying aroma often include using smoke, since a smoky taste is classed as a defect in coffee these techniques are quickly ruled-out.
Having re-read many of my mixology books, most notably Tristan Stephenson’s The Curious Bartender (one of my favourite books), I’ve run out of other options. I’ve tried creating reductions of fruit syrups and spraying this on the drink. I’ve tried creating stable foams or “airs” using cream whippers and soy lecithin. I’m experimenting with grinding up frozen particles of the fruit that match the aroma of the coffee and shaking it over the top – this is my last hope.
None of these options are particularly cost or time effective to use in a coffee shop which makes it unlikely I’ ever offer them to regular customers as a staple part of the menu. This was what I originally wanted to do and it seems unlikely to happen.
I still think it’s a cool idea but short of using dry ice or getting one of those fancy vaporizers that chefs use, Volcano, it really wouldn’t work well enough to make it worth offering. Maybe I’ll splash out on one of those vaporisers eventually…
I’ll still continue to try and find an effective method but I can’t see it happening realistically. If you have any experience or ideas please feel free to let me know and I’ll try it out.