The Signature Drink – Paul Bassett on Espresso Series

It wasn’t so long ago that coffee came in only two forms – black or white. But there are endless opportunities to be more creative with coffee…these ‘creative coffees’ have really only come of age in the last few years, and I believe their inclusion, in the form of the ‘signature drink’ in barista championships has given them increasing popularity in the world of espresso coffee.

So what makes a great creative drink? No doubt, it requires an understanding of espresso and the ability to start with a great shot of espresso.  But it also requires an understanding of the different ingredients and how they combine, as well as the way they compliment the espresso. And lastly, there’s the almost intangible factor of harmony or what I call ‘balance in the cup’.


Honey AffogatoHoney Affogato

(From the Italian ‘to drown’ – ie the ice cream or gelato ‘drowning’ in the espresso). The original affogato was made with fior di latte or milk-flavoured gelato. The Honey Affogato, a variant on the original, brings with it not only a new flavour, but also an extra textural dimension in the form of honeycomb. Note: with the Affogato, it’s important to prepare all the elements before extracting your espresso.

Line the inside rim of a parfait glass with sufficient honey that it begins to run down the inside of the glass. Add a large ball of honey-gelato to the bottom of the glass and pour over a double espresso and sprinkle the top with crushed honeycomb. Serve with a spoon.







This is a drink I’ve recently created and I especially like it because it makes a crisp, clean summer drink which provides a refreshing alternative to milk-based iced coffee.

Prepare a double espresso in a separate glass (approx. 60 ml) and place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to chill. In the meantime, make a sugar syrup of equal parts white sugar and water (ie: 500g sugar to 500ml water) and bring to boil.  [Optional: if desired, infuse syrup with cinnamon, vanilla pod, or spice of your choice]. Add this to a squirter bottle and place in the fridge to cool.

Fill a tall glass to 2/3rds with crushed ice, pour in the chilled double espresso and sugar syrup to taste (say around 30 mls). Top with soda water and stir. Optional: garnish with a twist of lemon.




Espresso MartiniEspresso Martini

There are different versions, but this is one of my favourite ways to prepare this classic drink.

Chill a double espresso in the freezer for 10-15 minutes; fill a martini glass with ice to chill. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, pour in 25ml of quality vodka, 15ml Crème de Cacao (white or dark), 25 ml of sugar syrup (see “espressoda’ for preparation). Add chilled double espresso, shake vigorously and pour. Grate dark chocolate over the top and replace olive with Ferrero Rocher.





Caffe NocciolaCaffe Nocciola

One of my most decadent creations, characterized by a rich complexity of flavour and texture.

Whisk a tub of double cream and a tablespoon of honey together (be careful not to over-whip and turn into butter!). Roast a handful of hazelnuts in oven, cool, then crush. Heat Nutella in microwave until runny (approx. 40-50 secs).

Lay a tablespoon of liquid Nutella into a martini glass, pour over a freshly-extracted double espresso, spoon in a small dollop of honey-infused double-cream over the espresso, sprinkle with crushed, roasted hazelnuts. Best served with cantuccini biscuits to scoop through mixture and gather up combined ingredients.





Creating your own creative coffees is fun, but requires trial and error. When thinking of a signature drink, I like to start with the end in mind, often coming up with a theme of what I want to achieve (ie: ‘Summer’ – light and refreshing). Remember that a signature drink will probably appeal to more than just your sense of taste – in fact to my mind, it’s often only the sense of sound that you do not appeal to! Enjoy experimenting.

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