Colonna Coffee and Tristan Stephenson launch espresso capsules for bartenders


Looking to step up your Espresso Martini game? You’re in luck – coffee company Colonna has released the Bartender Series, a new range of espresso capsules designed specifically for use in cocktails.

The project is a collaboration between Colonna founder Maxwell Colonna and big-name bartender Tristan Stephenson of Fluid Movement.

‘I’ve always been interested in the culture of coffee from a bartender’s perspective and what can be done to get bartenders more excited about coffee,’ Stephenson told Imbibe.

‘There’s been a shift in cocktail bartenders’ mindsets in the last 10 years towards coffee. They’ve come to realise it’s a crafted product that requires technique and knowledge to make. But still there’s a bit of a problem in that you need really great training to make good coffee.

‘To make great espresso, there are so many different variables involved, from grind size, to dose, to water pressure, water temperature, to what coffee you’re using, to how much liquid you expect to get out, to brew ratio. Unless you’re setting up with the intention of busting out two or three hundred espressos, it’s a hell of a lot of work to do just to pull a few shots for an Espresso Martini, and quite wasteful.’

With this in mind, Colonna created three different capsule coffees tailored to specific spirits: Fruit, Earth and Sweet.

Fruit is an Ethiopian coffee, which is, according to Stephenson, ‘known for its wild, tropical flavours’. The brand recommends pairing it with vodka in Espresso Martinis, though Stephenson said it’s a versatile brew.

Earth, developed to pair with agave-based spirits, is sourced from Indonesia and boasts herbal, vegetal, spiced notes.

Rounding out the trio of coffees is Sweet, a Brazilian coffee meant for rum-based drinks due to its rich flavours of caramel, chocolate and vanilla.

‘If you look at any ingredient that’s celebrated by bartenders, it’s usually because it’s got a clarity of flavour. All the best gins and liqueurs have that clarity to them, and coffee is the same,’ Stephenson explained.

He sees the new range as a way to avoid the challenges bartenders often face when making coffee-based cocktails. ‘With coffee liqueur you’re not using freshly brewed coffee, so you get flatness. With cold brew the flavour is less intense and more diluted,’ said Stephenson. ‘With espresso, the taste will be great if you’re brewing it correctly, but that is with the proviso that you know what you’re doing.’

Beyond flavour profiles, Colonna has also tailored its new range to bartenders by considering functionality. The capsule colours were chosen to be distinct and easily identifiable in low lighting, and the brand is looking into creating a dispensing tin that fits easily into a speed rail or on a shelf.

‘The capsules are super clean and neat, they don’t take up too much space and they’re recyclable,’ said Stephenson. ‘We just looked at the ways bartenders like to use espresso in their drinks, and how we can support that.’

Bartender Series, Colonna Coffee, [email protected]

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