Danny Wilson of Ona Coffee was crowned the winner of the MONIN Coffee Creativity Cup 2023 on 18 August at Slayer Espresso in Melbourne.
Jake Mai of Stitch Coffee and Milann “Max” Murakami, a barista and bartender at Death and Taxes in Brisbane were also finalists in the Melbourne final.
“I produced a tasty combination of flavours on the day. Everyone enjoys yummy drinks, and when you can get the balance just right and everything tastes exactly how you want it, then that’s all you can ask for,” Danny says.
Coinciding during Melbourne Coffee Week and the Melbourne International Coffee Expo, the competition aimed to find the most innovative, progressive, and creative coffee mocktail designed by industry professionals.
Danny, a Head Roaster at Ona Coffee in the Australian Capital Territory, presented the judges with his winning ‘Stargazer’ drink, which was designed to transport the drinker away from the city lights and allow nature’s symphony to take centre stage.
“I had this idea of contrasting two cities. The inspiration of city and country came back to the coffee. I always think of coffee as an ingredient. Cities run off caffeine, and people use it to drive their day. At the same time, it’s a natural ingredient that grows in the jungle. Once I had that inspiration, then I could build the rest of the drink around that theme,” Danny says.
Danny combined an El Salvador natural coffee of Pacamara variety from Finca Himalaya, which he has been roasting and tasting for the past five years. He then added botanical shrub cordial, which featured cascara and 10 to 12 different, botanicals featured in amaro and vermouth for complexity.
“Getting the right balance and temperature on the drink was crucial as well. Making a hot espresso and then chilling it quite quickly to become a cold drink is always tough. Keeping on top of all the variables is a technical challenge,” Danny says.
Lastly, he added Coca-Cola and MONIN salted caramel syrup to tie the drink together for a sweet and salty profile.
“There’s so much going on with the flavour when you add the botanicals and the coffee. You have sweetness from the MONIN salted caramel. Syrup and so the cola really helps stabilise all those ingredients and adds some freshness. It’s a familiar ingredient and one you associate with the city. Coca-Cola and coffee – it sounds like a weird combination, but it actually works really well,” Danny says.
“I’ve used MONIN in my ingredients before when I competed in the Coffee in Good Spirits Championship. It was one of the reasons I entered the competition, because I was familiar with its ingredients, and I know they work really well with coffee. This competition was another fun direction to show people how you can explore different MONIN flavours in coffee beverages in a fun and creative way.”
Danny ran out of time to add his final elements: ice cream and a eucalypt honey spray to garnish his drinks, but assures these final touches will be refined in his preparation for the Global MONIN Coffee Creativity Cup Final where he will now represent Australia in Kuala Lumpur. As part of his winning prize, he also pocked $5000 in prizemoney.
“I think I’ll use the money for a holiday a little bit of time off after competing in Kuala Lumper in November,” Danny says.
“This has been such a fun competition to be part of. I had a great day hanging out with the other competitors. I took a really organic approach to building my drink. I thought it tasted delicious; the coffee was amazing, and it went really well. I’m happy.”
For more information, visit stuartalexander.com.au/pages/monin-cup-2023