Every couple of weeks, we do an all staff throw down. This isn't bragging rights for the best latte art or ideal shot of spro. Instead, this is an opportunity for our barista (and Annex) team to show their stuff. Every barista can craft a signature beverage that will eventually make its way onto the menu. That is right. The baristas come up with a handful of the drinks you see in cafe.
In our most recent "throwdown," our primary ingredient was Cascara. This tea made from the outer fruit of a coffee cherry. When steeped, it has a dried fruit and floral sweetness. The goal: highlight the cascara in a new and unique way.
Our judges: Jared, Jonathan, Lauren, and Ndea
First up was our Cafe GM Paul, who brought the action early with a Cascara Butterbeer: Cream Soda, Cascara Syrup, and Cascara Whipped Cream.
Paul's Cascara Butterbeer, in all it's whipped cream glory.
Next up was Brandon Hutch, our Lead Roaster over at the Annex. Hutch siphoned over a mixture of simple syrup, oak chips, cinnamon, clove, allspice, and cascara. This was the base for his "Leftovers" Cascara Latte.
Pretty solid latte cart for a roaster.
Third up is Jules, our resident coffee mixologist and defending Fall throwdown champ (the Leche Sazonada is available in cafe now). This time, Jules unleashed the "Wassailing Cow," a drink using steamed milk, mulled spice infused cascara syrup, grated chocolate, and a flamed orange peel (seen above).
Evidence doesn't lie. Jules drink was tasty.
Fifth up was Cooper, our senior barista. He took a play on last year's cascara cider, but created a direct infusion of cascara skin, ginger, and brown sugar coated pears.
The remains of Cooper's infusion.
Keely went sixth, offering a "Coffee Cherry Soda." She made a cascara concentrate and topped with Michigan cherry juice and sparkling water. (I meant to get a pic of her drink....but I was up next...sorry!)
Last up was me (Christian). This was my first throwdown at Mission. I decided come up with a Cascara Mocktail using cascara tea concentrate, house made cascara bitters, Cheerwine cherry soda, and a sprig of rosemary for garnish.
The results: Jules and I were both selected to have featured drinks this round. You can check out the Wassailing Cow in December. The Cascara Mocktail #1 will heading to the cafe in a few weeks.
All that said, everyone had a solid night. I could see any one of our baristas having the next clever idea for the winter/spring throwdown. And, it impresses me still that we're able to do these collaborative projects with our baristas. These folks are talented. Make sure you stop by and pay them a visit. Soon.