Freelance Food & Drinks Writer

Tag Archives: coffee

Of shrubs and espresso

Shrubs are a cocktail ingredient, but why stop there? That’s what Caitlin “Corky” Corcoran, a barista at Parisi Artisan Coffee, figured. So she’s now combining all manner of fruits, vinegars and sweeteners into shrubs, and then matching them with espresso.

“The cafe’s been letting me go wild,” Corcoran says.

Caitlin "Corky" Corcoran with her shrubs at Parisi Artisan Coffee in Union Station.

And for good reason. Corcoran first tasted coffee when she was a toddler, stealing sips from her mother’s cup. She’s been in love with the stuff ever since, working as a barista for the last 9-1/2 years and recently qualifying for the U.S. Barista Championship competition, to be held in Portland, Ore., this weekend.

Her entry isn’t so much a drink as it is a tasting menu that explores espresso’s bitter, sweet and acidic characteristics. She starts with a straight-forward Parisi-roasted Guatemalan espresso with bright green apple at the start, followed by walnut bitterness. The second round is sweet, topped with a dollop of foam to highlight the espresso’s vanilla and caramel notes.

But it was Corcoran’s third “course” that captivated me. Her signature drink pairs a half-ounce of apple-honey shrub with one shot of espresso—something you’d think would clash, but that instead it brightens the beans, lifting each sip to bring out the fruit and nuts.

It would be interesting stuff, even if it was Corcoran’s only shrub. It’s not. She’s been playing with shrubs for months, and when I stopped by a couple weeks ago there were five jars lined up on the counter. Continue Reading

Shrubbin’ it at Westport Cafe & Bar

Shrubs are a free-form thing. The basic formula’s pretty simple: fruit, sugar and vinegar. How much, what kinds, how they’re combined and how they’re used is then all up to the bartender. Arturo Vera-Felicie continues pushing the shrub envelope at The Farmhouse, most recently by bottling a fizzy cocktail called Ophelia’s Lament that combines aquavit… Continue Reading

A clever new coffee toy

Coffee looms large in my imagination lately, thanks to an upcoming article about the Broadway Cafe & Roasting Company’s 20th anniversary. I had a deeply satisfying cup of Mexican Chiapas there yesterday when I stopped to interview co-owner Jon Cates and head roaster Brian Phillips. But today I’m alone in my office, and the closest… Continue Reading

Wanna meet for a coffee?

I love that phrase, and all it implies—sitting down with a friend, sipping coffee from a real cup and chatting in a way I rarely take time to do these days. It’s a communal experience, one that hasn’t changed much over the centuries. Farmers in small Kansas towns like the one I grew up in… Continue Reading

Quote: I’m not drinking bad coffee. Ever.

“I’m not drinking bad coffee. Ever.” This from Jason Burton, owner of The Lab, a specialty beverage marketing company. Happily, he recently opened to the public, so we don’t have to either. You won’t find a coffee shop inside The Lab, just off 31st and Southwest Boulevard. What you will find is half a dozen… Continue Reading