Diageo: Jason Clark on coffee and cocktails
Clark explains how coffee and cocktails can be a great combination.
How did you get into coffee and bartending?
I have been in the drinks industry and bartending for 22 years now. I started as a 17-year old picking up glasses in a nightclub and I have owned and managed bars, restaurants and cafes. In 2013, I won the national title for Diageo Reserve World Class New Zealand, part of the largest cocktail competition in the world. I went to the global finals and was a placed fourth in the world. That started to open up a few doors for me and since then I have gone on to become a brand ambassador representing luxury brands.
I fell in love with coffee many years ago when it became a necessity for work. In New Zealand we have a very high standard of coffee and I have been intrigued by all the flavours.
When it comes to cocktails I have made plenty of the classics, such as Irish coffees, and I have created a number of my own. When I started writing the book, I had been training bartenders to create their own signature serve coffee cocktails. It opened a can of worms as there is so much more that can be done with coffee than just an espresso martini or an Irish coffee. I started getting really creative and designed over 100 drinks with coffee.
What spirits work well with coffee?
Some spirits are better than others and vodka is easy to slide in but I find it a bit boring. I personally love matured rums, bourbons, brandy and even a bit of scotch whisky. It is hard to mix gin with coffee but it can be done.
I have categorised the cocktails into different styles depending on the moment. There are long refreshing cocktails for hot sunny days, using very subtle coffee, where it is just a small touch of character, without getting you buzzing, and then there are others that are just hot and intense rich coffee bombs. Coffee is such a variable ingredient and I very rarely use the same coffee twice.
What has been the proudest moment of your career?
Publishing the book was an incredible moment and it is now available in over 30 countries. It reached Amazon number one bestseller status in tea and coffee books in December in the UK. The book has been huge but the Diageo World Class placing of 4th was right up there as well.
What do you think the challenges are facing baristas and bartenders?
The barista and café world is very similar to bars and cocktails. The natural progression in anyone’s career is not to be stuck behind the coffee machine or shaking drinks until you are 50. There is a natural progression if you have the ability to get into the marketing side or development branding.
In the book I Iooked at three different types of people – bartenders, baristas and home consumers. I wanted to inspire bartenders to care more about coffee, baristas to understand they can get more creative and produce other drinks besides the typical café drinks and for at home consumers to order more interesting things and try and make them at home.
You are showcasing at the Barista Masterclasses at European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo. What made you want to become involved?
I am keen lover of the coffee world and want to interact with the sector. It is about inspiring coffee people to get more creative and think about creating other style drinks. We are in hospitality, which is all about guest satisfaction, which is all about exciting and entertaining our guests. I want to get that wow reaction and I want to help other bartenders and baristas to get more creative. Hopefully, I can show them some tricks and tips to get more creative. And I am sure at the same time I will learn more about coffee techniques.
- Jason Clark will be hosting a session at the Barista Masterclass on Tuesday, 21 May at 12.45pm.
- VA Machinery is the coffee machine and grinder sponsor of the Barista Masterclasses.
- Brita is also exhibiting on stand A15 in addition to co-sponsoring the Barista Masterclass.
- Lavazza is the official coffee sponsor for the Barista Masterclasses and will be exhibiting on stand D22 at European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo.
- Coffee Bay is the equipment supplier for the Barista Masterclasses and will be exhibiting on stand F26
- Stephen Leighton, founder of Hasbean Coffee,will be co-hosting the Barista and Roastery Masterclasses
- Glebe Farm is the oat drink provider for the Barista and Roastery Masterclasses and will be exhibiting on stand B8
- Brades Farm is the milk provider for the Barista and Roastery Masterclasses and is exhibiting on stand D36.
- For more information on European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo, contact Sukhvir Hayre on +44 (0) 203 668 9809 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Visitor registration is now open for the European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo. For FREE fast-track entry click here.
- The Barista Masterclasses will take place at European Coffee, Tea & Soft Drinks Expo held at London’s Olympia on 21 to 22 May 2019.