MONIN explores its citrus and tropical range of syrups to inject fast and tasty beverage solutions to any café menu this summer.
Seasonality dictates product availability, beverage trends, and cultural drinking habits. It’s the reason why citrus fruits grow naturally in warmer climates, and the reason why Cubans drink mojitos and daiquiris filled with lime juice, and Spaniards drink sangrias and gin and tonics with lots of lemon.
So, when it comes to the summer months ahead, John Davidson, Head of Advocacy and Innovation at Stuart Alexander, an exclusive distributor of MONIN in Australia, says it’s time for Australian and New Zealand cafés to experiment with citrus flavours that offer a refreshing, palate cleansing variety to their menus.
“To create balance in anything, whether it’s food or cocktails or signature serves in your café, is about understanding the levels of acid and sweetness,” John says.
“Sweetness can come from notes of the coffee or how it’s been harvested, macerated, roasted or stored, and it’s the same with acidity, but I think there’s still some sort of fear across mainstream coffee in particular about mixing bitter or sour flavours with coffee because it is such a bold flavour already.”
To help maintain that balance, MONIN has a huge range of citrus, sugar cane syrups, such as Pineapple, Lemon Tea, Blood Orange, Passion Fruit, Kiwi, Mango, and Pineapple – big, bright flavours that offer different levels of sweetness and acidity, and just scream “summer”.
“When you speak to people making great cocktails and great food, they still often describe limes and lemons as being quite sweet in the flesh with oily skins and bitter in the piths, and that’s the attitude MONIN has when you taste something like a Mandarin, a Lemon or a Lime syrup,” John says.
“They’re not ever particularly sweet. They taste tart and sour and fragrant and have oily flavours that are really dynamic. It’s easy to think of [MONIN products] as just sugar syrups and adding sugar to serves. But the more blood orange you add to a cold brew, for example, is not going to make the drink sweeter. It’s just going to taste more like blood orange. If you’ve got a single origin that tastes more like those warm citruses, then a touch of that blood orange might stand out on a menu. If I read ‘orange sanguine cold brew” on a chalkboard, I would be tempted.”
Cold coffee combinations have been doing the rounds for years in premium cafés – first came espresso sodas, then coffee tonics and spritzers – but perhaps, John says, the industry was “a bit too clever and a bit too soon” in launching interesting flavour pairings.
“People need to feel comfortable with coffee and flavour pairings. The key is to keep it simple and strip it back with minimal ingredients, such as cold brew with Yuzu puree. It’s about how we herald those serves and get everyone really excited about trying [flavour pairings] and not thinking about it being an ‘iced mocha vanilla frappe’ or just being a sugar drink. Rather, we should be advocating that it’s a ‘fruit or citrus infusion’, which is such an exciting prospect,” John says.
MONIN’s range of syrups are flash- pasteurised, and contain no GMOs, gluten, dairy, fat, proteins, or cholesterol. They are also halal and kosher-certified, and vegan and gluten free.
John adds that while customers can be familiar with citrus flavours such as lemon, lime, and tangerine, it’s about putting those flavours into a different setting that can easily separate a café menu from someone else’s down the road.
“Renowned chef Marco Pierre White’s menu at Harveys is a great example of this. He served asparagus parfait dead centre in the middle of a meal. People know asparagus they know parfait, but they would usually think of it as something they had at the end of the meal. It’s nothing shocking, it’s just taking those classic ingredients and putting them into a place that you wouldn’t expect,” he says.
John says there are three frames of mind when approaching coffee and flavour pairings: adding, subtracting or balancing flavour notes. If a coffee has notes of mango for example, adding a touch of MONIN mango syrup can help highlight that particular flavour. If the coffee has strong notes of mango already, you can avoid enhancing this flavour and instead round it out with more fatty macadamia flavours, for example. Or, if the mango flavouring is more ‘confectionary sweet’, pair it with passion fruit to create an island-inspired coffee creation.
“Another good idea when pairing flavours is infuse coffee with flavours that grow around the region it was produced, like how the Italians drink wine that grows closest to their tomato and olive plants. What grows together goes together,” John says.
“Most important, is that the coffee remains the hero of the beverage – small dashes of MONIN citrus or other botanicals are all it takes to make a difference.”
John recalls attending his first Melbourne International Coffee Expo and watching Ona Coffee captivate visitors with flights of coffee and fruit pairings. It was at that moment John knew there was an opening in the market to build on the tasting notes of coffee with flavour infusions.
Now that there’s appetite to experiment, John says café operators should use their beverage menu to “encourage and excite” customers with a fun, grabbing title, rather than listing of all products and processes detailing the drink preparation.
“Keep the wording simple with the goal to be appetising. Even if I spent 12 hours overnight cold dripping the best single origin from Guadalajara through Mandarin-infused ice, would I say that on the chalkboard? Or does ‘Mandarin cold brew’ read a bit better? When people enjoy the product, then you can share the story. The menu should only be a tool to get the beverage idea across, not your only communication with a guest,” he says.
John adds that there is more room for error when serving cold coffee beverages, but preparation for good quality, consistent coffee delivered quickly, is key.
Cold brew or chilled filter coffee can be stored in the fridge and adding a dash of MONIN Kiwi or Yuzu puree for example, will help to preserve it because the MONIN syrup is flush pasteurised when mixed in a cold brew. Therefore, it will stay fresh for longer and gives cafés ample preparation time so that when their venue opens in the morning, it’s ready to serve.
“We’ve got 20-litres of batched mango and macadamia cold brew running at the MONIN studio at the moment, and it’s delicious. It’s sort of like a Weiss bar,” John says. “It works well with alternative milks as well.”
The time to start preparing cold infused beverages is now. John says with knowledge and empowerment to create an inviting menu, all that’s left for cafés to do to think about their clientele and brand message, then consider MONIN as a tool in the arsenal to help convey that message.
“There will also be customers who are filter-only drinkers, and that’s absolutely fine, but there will also be customers who are willing to try different options. Drinking coffee should be fun. It should bring people together and experimenting with flavours should just be another part of that,” he says.
For more information, visit www.stuartalexander.com.au/brands/monin
This article appears in the December 2022 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.