Forget espresso martinis, we have one of the world's top coffee cocktails
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Forget espresso martinis, we have one of the world's top coffee cocktails

They're two words you dream about hearing in a sentence together but beyond espresso martinis, is a "coffee cocktail" really a thing?

It turns out it most definitely is - and Canberra is home to one of the world's most talented coffee cocktail baristas.

Danny Wilson, holding signature coffee cocktail 'La Leona Soda', poses in front of a portrait of Ona boss and former world barista champion Sasa Sestic.

Danny Wilson, holding signature coffee cocktail 'La Leona Soda', poses in front of a portrait of Ona boss and former world barista champion Sasa Sestic.Credit:Karleen Minney

Danny Wilson, 28, a roaster at Ona Fyshwick, is headed for Brazil in a matter of weeks to represent Australia in the World Coffee in Good Spirits championship in Belo Horizonte.

To impress the panel of international judges, Wilson will pour his signature cocktail, the La Leona Soda, a stunning mixture of espresso, dark rum, sweet Pedro Ximenez sherry, fermented pineapple syrup, lime and soda water. La Leona Soda is best served over ice, Wilson says, with a pineapple slice and an umbrella.

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The cocktail is underpinned by four shots of espresso, sourced from the La Leona coffee farm in Honduras. Wilson, who was a barista for four years before joining Ona as a roaster in 2014, visited Honduras last year to see the La Leona production process.

La Leona's beach theme 'always surprises' the judges, Wilson says.

La Leona's beach theme 'always surprises' the judges, Wilson says.Credit:Karleen Minney

"I chose the La Leona espresso because it had a great acidity that reminded me of lime and pineapple with a rich sugary body," he says.

Wilson won the Australian Coffee in Good Spirits championship earlier this month by carbonating La Leona in a whipped cream syphon using a CO2 cartridge, and serving the cocktail on a miniature beach, complete with tiny beach towels.

"I think my creativity is a big part of the competition and definitely gives me the edge," Wilson says.

"Part of my day job is creating blends that we send out to cafes - so it's super important for me to understand how the flavours of different coffees work together.

"I approached my cocktail the same way - by blending ingredients and flavours I knew would work with the coffee I'd chosen."

Wilson isn't the only Ona coffee guru headed for Brazil to compete internationally in November. Barista Heath Dalziel from Adelaide cafe Third Time Lucky will use an Ona blend as he competes in the Brewer's Cup, a filter coffee competition.

For the next few weeks, Wilson will spend long hours in the wholesale section of Ona's Wollongong Street premises, coming up with new world-class recipes. In addition to presenting La Leona Soda, Wilson will also need to make a hot coffee cocktail and an Irish coffee in an attempt to win over the judges.

He's looking to previous winners of the World Coffee in Good Spirits championship for inspiration, including industry legend Matt Perger, inventor of the Liquid Christmas Cake.

"I'm excited to visit Brazil, they're the biggest coffee producer in the world and we buy a lot of coffee from there every year," Wilson says.

"I'll do my best to bring home the trophy for Canberra."

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