Baltimore Signature Beverage Contest Winner Shares Her Secrets

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I was thrilled when Barista Magazine was asked to be a part of the Baltimore Signature Coffee Throwdown, which was held on August 18 at Johnny’s Downstairs in Baltimore, Maryland. I just love it when people think up fun new contests—there are NO RULES as to how creative you and your coworkers and your friends want to be in dreaming up a coffee contest: any and all ideas are welcome.

So this contest, for example, allowed competitors to use any ingredients they wanted—alcohol included. The only caveat was that they had to include stone fruit. Competitors hailed from Spro, LAMILL, Johnny’s, Sidewalk Espresso Bar, and Dooby’s Coffee.

For this competition, barista competitors were invited to be as creative as they wanted with their ingredients. The one rule: some kind of stone fruit had to be incorporated.

For this competition, barista competitors were invited to be as creative as they wanted with their ingredients. The one rule: some kind of stone fruit had to be incorporated.

At the end of the evening, the winner was Echo Standing, who works at LAMILL Coffee in Baltimore’s Waverly neighborhood, where she also lives. One judge said Echo’s drink was “dangerously smooth,” while another said that even though the drink contained no milk-based ingredients, it was “almost creamy,” with a delightful mouthfeel.

Barista Magazine caught up with Echo to ask her about her coffee history, her creative process in building the drink that would win this awesome competition, and her thoughts on submissions from her fellow competitors.

Echo Standing, the bitchen barista bartender whose creation, The Peachy Keen, won the Baltimore Signature Coffee Drink Throwdown on Sunday.

Echo Standing, the bitchen barista bartender whose creation, The Peachy Keen, won the Baltimore Signature Coffee Throwdown on Sunday.

Sarah: Congratulations, Echo! It’s so cool that you won the Baltimore Signature Coffee Throwdown on Sunday! How long have you been working in coffee?

Echo: I’ve been working in coffee for a while now. I moved from upstate New York where I’ve been working in different coffee shops for the last four years. This is now my fifth year working in coffee. LAMILL is an L.A.-based roaster and we are the first outlet on the East coast.

Sarah: Cool! Now tell us about the drink you created for the competition…

Echo: My drink was called The Peachy Keen. The components of the cocktail were: twice infused peace bourbon, white peach puree, cold brew, and peach bitters. I shook the drink over ice and twice strained it. I served the cocktail in a martini glass that I rimmed in dehydrated peach skin mixed with white sugar and garnished with a slice of fresh fruit. All of the peaches that I used for my cocktail came from my local farmers market. I was trying to make a cocktail that was balanced. I knew I wanted the stone fruit to shine so I made sure I used it in every possible component but I also wanted the coffee to come through so I made a really concentrated cold brew that coated the mouth when you drank the cocktail.

The Peachy Keen.

The Peachy Keen.

Sarah: Wow, Echo, that sounds so amazing and creative! Can you tell us about the coffee you used?

Echo: The coffee I used was the Kilenso Mokonisa Single Origin coffee from Ethiopia from Counter Culture. When I first tasted this coffee there were really strong notes of blueberries and sweet fruit. I thought the fruity coffee would go well to balance the heavy bourbon and I knew that the cold brew method would keep the acidity low but really would punch up the flavor of the coffee.
Sarah: Since all the competitors came from the Baltimore area, you guys must all know each other, right? Who were some competitors who impressed you?
Echo: My friend Tim works at Sidewalk Espresso in Baltimore [had a] drink [that] was really interesting. He made an infusion with plums and rosemary as well as hot espresso. His presentation was super innovative. Before he began making his drink he spoke with the judges, something none of us thought to do, and explained what he was going to serve and why he chose to do it. He set the mood for them and told a bit of a story that I think really enhanced the whole experience.
Congratulations again, Echo! One of her prizes is a one-year subscription to Barista Magazine—we hope she enjoys it! And we hope to hear about lots more interesting and creative coffee contests happening around the nation and the world!

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.