Welcome to ‘On the Back Bar’ a podcast for the drinks trade where we interview bartenders, sommeliers, and producers across the globe
Martin Hudak, Global coffee Ambassador for Mr. Blacks, Part of the ‘Maybe Sammy’ Team and 2019 International Bartender of the Year.
“I got specific single-origin cream for my Irish coffee, and when I tasted it it was like vanilla, creamy, chocolatey, raisiny. It was delicious” – Martin Hudak
Today’s guest is a special one. He was nominated 2019 international bartender of the year. He is the global coffee ambassador for Mr. Black’s coffee liqueur. He heads up the coffee cocktail program at the ‘Maybe Sammy’ hotel bar, which was recently nominated best bar in Australia, and he is just about to launch his new coffee business. His name Is Martin Hudak and what I like about this episode is his genuinely kind approach to wanting to give people experience end knowledge about the coffee world.
Contact info & resource list:
Christopher: Hi. Good morning. Welcome to you, On The Back Bar, thanks for joining us today.
Martin Hudak: Hi. Good morning Chris. Thank you for the invitation. Very excited to share a couple of words with you guys.
Christopher: Perfect. Well, honestly, I think everyone’s gonna be really excited to hear about you today. We’re always starting with sort of the beginnings where everyone got into hospitality. So if you could give us your five minute rundown of, where you came from, what you do., And that’d be great. Sure, sure.
Martin Hudak: Right. Well, I’m coming from the country, which is very well known for a great bartender’s community. So are coming from Slovakia or Czechoslovakia. So basically the heart of Europe. Working in hospitality all my life, studied hospitality school as well. Once I finished school, I had this idea I wanna I want to make money out of what I learned, and what I liked. So I started working in the local coffee shops. But in Slovakia, pretty much there is no cocktail culture, or there wasn’t a cocktail culture back in time. So. Of course what you’re going to do, you’re going to do coffee, and then, maybe pull some shots of some very strong spirits., Do lots of beers and here and there, you do some, I don’t know, what’s a Negroni or some strawberry mojitos and stuff like that. So I was doing that for five years.
Martin Hudak: I was very passionate about it. And I did a couple of competitions, international one which brought me to Havana, brought me to Stockholm, and London and all over around the world. And how amazing it was back in time, to found a passion in both different worlds, world of coffee and world of cocktails? And being that kind of person, in early days, passionate about both. I developed this kind of like a status within the industry where, someone who wanted to know something about coffee came to me. But the same time, someone who wanted to know something about cocktails came to me. So I was real like that kind of that guy who was trying to bridge the gap. But I still didn’t know, am I barista or am I bartender? Who I really am. And then after five years, Slovakia became bit smaller for me.
Martin Hudak: I pretty much achieved everything that I wanted to and I wanted to move on. So the best way how to test your skills, and as well, the best way, how to, you know, challenge your ego, and all this, what you think about yourself is to move to the country, which is the best for coffee or cocktails. And of course, the closest choice will be London. So I moved to the mecca of cocktails. And funny enough by, I don’t know, the right timing, preparation, and all the luck on the earth. I got a senior position at the Savoy, very legendary place, it is an American bar. And I yeah, I had my first shift there on 10 of December 2014, and I’ve been there almost for four years. Working there alongside the big legends, where we achieved the many greatest rankings in the greatest competition. And then, after four years, almost four years at the Savoy, I decided for another challenge. I realized it’s very easy to wear a white jacket to be there, and to be confident with history. I said, you know what, I want another challenge. I’m going to move to other side of the world. And no one really cares about who is Martin, like what is Savoy.[05:58]
Christopher: as you do, yeah!
Martin Hudak: Yeah. So in 2018, I packed everything. And I moved to Australia. Where, last year, exactly a year ago, and a couple of weeks, we together with a great team of people, we opened Maybe Semi, our new hotel bar, Miner’s Hotel. And yeah, it’s already a year and a half. Australia running Maybe Semi, at the same time, working for Mr. Blake as a global coffee ambassador, running my own roastery. So I would say last 10 years, I’ve changed positions maybe just like three times, from little cafe in Slovakia to the greatest hotel bar in the world, to the own bar in Australia and working for a brand. So that’s my life in ten years.[06:41]
Christopher: I mean, wow, what a life. Do you really think is sort of right time, and right place, or was there a bit more behind it?
Martin Hudak: I think I believe in like higher power, and all these karma things. And yes, of course, right time and you need to be prepared. You always need to be prepared. You never know when the opportunity comes and knock on your door, and you really have to be ready. And I think opportunity and preparation, it’s kind of, yeah, lucky combination.[07:11]
Christopher: I mean, one thing I’ve quite admired about your career is, you’ve always had a sense of there’s a big determination of focus. For instance, the coffee cocktail competitions, you were seven years in the making it of just every time. But that’s, that takes a lot of determination to do that.
Martin Hudak: Yeah. I really don’t know anyone who did competition for seven years or any, any kind. It was like a world class Bacardi legacy. I don’t really know anyone who did this, for so such a long time. And yes, from beginning it was kind of like an ego thing. I knew I’m good, I knew I can win. I just really, I didn’t for many years and it was just because I was stubborn, and I was stupid, and I didn’t read the rules. And like first few years in Slovakian national finals, I was disqualified every year. And not many people knows that, because I went there, and big ego, bart’s in there. I was like, yeah, I have a dry ice and I have a cool leather apron, and bow tie, and I have tattoos. And I’m going to show you what it’s all about.
Martin Hudak: But of course I didn’t read the rules, and I was very slow, so I was five minutes over time, bomb, disqualified. And then I realized, okay, if you want to be the best, it’s not about look cool. And being like this ego Bart in there but being really determined, read the rules, and go deep in the sources. And yes, as you said, it took me seven years. But it is not because of the knowledge about the coffee and cocktail. Not because about being passionate, it took me seven years to develop and change as a human being. I’ve really, really, really myself, in 2010 when I started competing and my self when I won 2017, I became a different person. I am mature enough, I aged enough to understand what are the priorities. And the winning of the competition is not about being the best in the world. But the winning of the competition is basically, to take this achievement and share with your guests, and share it with your peers, and friends, and industry people. And share your expertise and knowledge, because there are so many other world champions who basically put the trophy on the shelf and that’s it. But I really didn’t want to be one of those. I really want to take this trophy and share every piece of this experience I had over seven years with everyone. And that, I think I believe any competition you do is important, as much as you’re going to share it with others.[09:29]
Christopher: Yeah, I agree. I mean hat’s off to you, because a lot of people would give up after the first couple of times they failed. They’d be like, okay, it’s not for me, but you stuck to it. And the competition we’re talking about for the audience is the 2017 World Coffee in Good Spirits. Can you tell us a bit about the competition, the sort of things you have to do, the challenges and what cocktail you did when you won?
Martin Hudak: Yeah, sure. It is kind of, let’s say I would say it’s kind of like World Class. Because that’s one of the biggest competitions in the world. It is like the Olympic Games in coffee world. You have to be first of all, a winner in your country. You have to represent your country, and then you travel abroad and compete. Now you can choose different categories, you know when you do the Olympics, kind of long run, short run, marathon, et cetera. So you can choose different categories. You can do, I don’t know, cappuccino like flood whites, pictures, latté art. You can brew coffee, you can roast coffee. And I have a passion in all of those different categories, but I find myself in a coffee cocktail category to be like, yes, that’s me.
Martin Hudak: So what you have to do, to be there, you have to win nationals, go there, and then basically have a 10 minutes on the stage, where you have two taste judges in front of you evaluating your drinks. Then you have a head judge, then you have a technical judge. We have a timekeeper. So there’s about five, six people around you, 10 minutes on the stage, all year preparation and just 10 minutes. And you have to do two signature coffee cocktails, one warm or hot one cold, two portions each. So you have to serve four drinks, four portions in total, based on two different coffees. So one have to be espresso based, one have to be filter based. And then, you have to basically tell them everything. It’s not like bartending competition like eh, you’re in that. You really need to go deep in the sources and explain why you choose this coffee, why it’s roasted like that, why tastes like that, and why choose this specific spirit to combine it with the coffee.
Martin Hudak: And then according to what you said to the judges, they’re going to basically give the points. So if I say my coffee tastes like strawberries, and in the pitch, with aftertaste of a salted caramel. If they not going to taste this inside, you’re going to get zero on tasting. And you have only 10 minutes to do all this. Once you do that, and they’re going to give you points. They’re going to choose top six and the top six going to the next day finals from the semifinals. And then in the final, you pretty much have to do the same thing, apart from, you have to as well present Irish coffee. So one signature drink and Irish coffee. Now Irish coffee is the big legendary coffee cocktail. And it’s kind of like a benchmark for the judges to see the differences between all the competitors.
Martin Hudak: And now you might, you might think in Irish coffee, whiskey, sugar, coffee and cream. What can be the difference? But of course, there can be massive differences. In my case, I decided to focus on small details outside of the coffee. So I used the honey from Slovakia, the bees where eating pollen from the trees in the forest. So it’s a forest honey, and it was much more darker, much more floral than any other honey. And then I blend these honey with muscovado sugar from a rich from Mauritius. It was biodynamic farm. So what is good about those two sweeteners? Honey is floral but not sweet enough. Then I used muscovado, which was sweet but not floral, but it gave it this beautiful nutty caramel flavor. I combined them together, and I used them as my sweetener instead of just any kind of classic sugar syrup. And then whiskey itself, I focused on something more aged. I really like the Sherry cask game going on. Cause my coffee was already fruity, and I wanted to support this fruitiness, so I choose 12 years old, Sherry Cask Powers whiskey. And just like a little brandy to blend it all together. But then I was thinking about cream, you know like yeah we take dairy for granted, it’s any dairy. So I was like, well if I’m having like single barrel whiskey from a specific cask and I have this specific honey, I want to have a specific cream. So how can I do it? So I went to the farm, in the middle of England. I went to see the farmer and ask him which cream is the best? And he was like, what you mean is the best? I was like, well, I’m looking for higher protein content.
Martin Hudak: I’m looking for like much fattier, richer and creamer. I want to know exactly fat content. And it was like, well listen, I have 120 cows here. Why you don’t do tests? So we were milking each cow separately. We run the test, separate them, each milk and we create the creams from each cow and we find that the cow, number 83, three years old cow, her cream was the best in terms of protein and fat content and what I was looking for. And I got specific single-origin cream for my Irish coffee. And then when, I taste it was like vanilla, a creamy chocolatey. It was yellow and I used just a slightly amount layer on top, which called your tongue and it was just like game changer. I loved it. I love it so much.[14:19]
Christopher: It’s all in the details, right?
Martin Hudak: I believe God is in details. You know, like if you want to be best in the world, you have to go so deep, so dirty.[14:28]
Christopher: Yeah, completely. I mean the cocktail sounds amazing. The competition sounds intense too. And it’s interesting. I read one of your previous articles, that you were interviewed in. And you mentioned about mentors and you’ve had a few during your time. Obviously, Eric larynx at Savoy must’ve been a big one? How important is it to have a mentor when you’re doing these sort of competitions?
Martin Hudak: Yeah, I believe for everyone out there, any competition you’re going to do in your life, you cannot do it by yourself. You can’t, you have to be surrounded by right people. You have to kind of team who’s going to help you. And I think everything started at home. You have to have a good home ground, you have to have a good partner, or family supporting you, who understand what you’re doing, and how you’re doing it. And they really need to have lots of patients with you. Cause your spending all your money and time, effort on some competition they don’t understand. As everything starting at home. And I was very lucky, that I have my partner who really understand what I’m doing, and she’s like, the greatest support, and as well, the biggest critic. And so, everything starting at home and then in the workplace of course, you need to have colleagues and a mentor there.
Martin Hudak: Because honestly, myself, I’m not great at making drinks. Yes, I can build a good cocktail but tweaking the recipes, and being so precise, I’m not good with that. I’m more good with people, show hospitality and talking. That’s why I was very lucky to have back in time at the Savoy. And even now, in Sydney, I have an amazing colleague who helped me to build the cocktails. Then you need to have someone who is going to help with coffee. Back in time, of course, my coffee knowledge was little, I didn’t know how to roast coffee. I didn’t know I have to go to the farm. So you have to surround yourself with professionals from other fields, who are gonna help you to bring the coffee to the table and roast it. And then, maybe, there are some of the other techniques, which I don’t understand. I don’t know how to rotovap, or Suvi, or infuse things. Maybe you could ask the chefs. So surround yourself with the people from different fields and don’t be afraid to ask for help. And once you win, please make sure you acknowledge them, and please make sure you are going to tell everyone who helped you to grow. I became world champion, not because of my determination, I became world champion because of all the people alongside, on the journey helped me.[16:48]
Christopher: Okay. Fantastic. I mean that’s great. Really is. And I feel I really completely agree with you. I think mentorship is so important. And you’re right, surround yourself with the right people too. I mean a lot of people, I think, know about your past. You’ve had quite an illustrious career. Let’s talk about what’s going on now. In sort of the future for you. Maybe Sammy has had fantastic success since it’s opened. Last year, 2019 winning Best Bar in Australia, and number 43 in the World’s 50 Best. That’s a title, to tell you. It’s pretty impressive. What’s that been like?
Martin Hudak: Well honestly, when you open a bar with a bunch of people, and some investors on board, first thing you want to do is make them happy. You want to make your investors happy and bring some money to the bar. The opening bar just for sake of awards, it’s not right. I believe awards are cute and healthy. They are kind of a motivation but they shouldn’t there for your ego, or they shouldn’t be there for your Instagram accounts, who have more followers. Awards, basically, are tools which can bring the business to the establishment, and I can clearly say that it’s working. So when we opened Maybe Sammy last year, we came with this liberal soul on board. And all of us, myself, we work in five star hotels from artisian, like Savoy, Lobster Bar, Shanghai, Hong Kong.
Martin Hudak: We had this five-star mentality, and we knew we want to open something that doesn’t exist in Sydney. There are not really in Australia, hotel bars in door. And we wanted to open this hotel bar style. So we have these secrets of service and standards. You feel like you are in the Connaught or you are, you feel like you are at Nomad or Atlas, which is not even a hotel bar, but still have this like, opulent, transit service, but still relaxed. And we really wanted to do it. So when we did it, when we opened in January 9th last year, where it is like, not expectations but we’re like, okay, what’s going to happen? Is this industry gonna accept us? Are the guests going to understand what we want to do? And honestly, the first six months we struggled so much. We were standing there in empty venue on Tuesday night, no one walk in.
Martin Hudak: We were there, thirsty and hungry with all those experiences from London, and around the world. And we were like, Oh my God, what’s going to happen? And then, yeah, tales came in July and especially, international cocktail bar and we’re like, what the hell is going on? We’d got it. And then 50 Best came, Australian bar awards came, Alias, like it just started rolling out and people start coming in, coming in. And we have, nowadays we have a full venue on Tuesday. We’re doing incredible numbers compared to last year. And we are shocked. We are, yes, we are humble at the same time, but we’ve worked fucking hard. We worked so hard behind the scene and being so far away from everyone else, you have to put your lane, you have to put your ass out there, you have to travel. You have to convince people, you have to show them what you do. Because otherwise, no one going to know what you’re doing. If you’re not going to tell them what you’re doing, how are they going to know about you? So yes, we have the amazing year we got I guess in total 11 awards, and nationally, internationally. But now, it’s behind. It’s 2019 it’s gone. 2020, that’s the future we are focusing on, what we’re going to do next.[20:15]
Christopher: Great. Let’s talk about the bar. It’s beautiful. But, if no one has seen it yet, Google Maybe Sammy now. It looks stunning. The color palette as well, I love. Let’s talk about the cocktails, the mini martinis to start with, sound fantastic, where did that come from?
Martin Hudak: Yeah, I think, we saw this many times around London, especially when you go to those hotel bars, they serve those mini champagnes on arrival, in those mini glasses. And those glasses are cute, of course they’re cute and expensive. We buy them from John Jenkins, which one, is a very famous glassmaker in the UK. So we shipped them over from him and it’s just so expensive for us to have them. But we said, let’s do those things right. So idea was Australia is good in terms of craft spirits, wine and beer. They are good with their cocktail culture. But if we’re talking about classic drinks, it’s still like on the way. And we knew that we want to introduce classic cocktails to the crowd, but we have to be very careful. You cannot just come here from London and be like, Oh yeah, I’m going to do hanky panky, every day or I’m going to do martinis. No one’s going to get it.
Martin Hudak: So the way how to do it is to think about let’s do it smaller, shorter, more palatable. Already diluted and quick. First of all, they don’t wait. People, they don’t wait. So we took classic drinks, just martini, or Alaska, or Lavard years and stuff like that. We pre-bash them, dilute them, a little bit modified in terms of sugar and volume to make them palatable for the current taste. And then basically, we introduced mini cocktails and I believe, yes, we are not one of the first one. We are not piloting it, you know, Tara Baney doing it, Dante is doing it, everyone’s doing it. But we want it to be like one of the first in Australia. And from the first time we introduced it, it just became super popular. Like we’re doing happy hours between 4:30 and 5:30 when we open the door, within happy hours, one mini cocktail for $5.50, like £4/£3.
Martin Hudak: So you can have like a tasting of classic drinks. You can have four of them lined up for you for less than 10 pounds, $10. And you can taste and choose what you like. And sometimes we’re doing it like even 150 of them, within one hour. So, it’s crazy. And that brings attention and awareness., the classic cocktails. And yes, you’re losing kind of point of showmanship, you’re losing the point of, doing this crazy mixologist stuff. But at the same time, we want to like show the people classic drinks in a fast, easy way.[22:45]
Christopher: And even looking at the signature selection, there’s a lot of classic flavors there. I mean the Tropicana with the Bacardi eight-year-old Montenegro. And you’ve got toasted coconut, a wood-fired pineapple and cinnamon sharp. This flavor is just classic, you know, so that’s the one I’d go for, I think. You’re in charge of the coffee cocktails on the menu, which has its own section. Do you want to talk about that? Which one’s your favorite?
Martin Hudak: Sure. We divided our responsibilities in our team and you have to find your strengths within the team. If this person is good with paperwork, so we’re gonna give him paperwork. If you know that this person is good with doing the clarification and things like that, you’re going to give him this responsibilities. And from beginning we knew, Andrea is amazing creative person. He won’t work as many time and like we knew he is like a God of flavors. So yes, he’s in charge of like the whole creative process. And of course the coffee cocktails is my part and from beginning we knew, I knew as well, I’m going to country of coffee. Australia is know for coffee culture, especially martini is the best selling cocktail in this part of the world.
Martin Hudak: And I knew if you want to do coffee cocktails, right, we have to go deep into sources. And that’s why the first thing was, we’re going to source our own beans. We are going to roast them. We’re going to make coffee in house, the same as any other specialty coffee shop in the country. And of course, our coffee cup is going to be slightly different. Because we are focusing on the coffee itself. And my favorite so far, and I think it’s there since opening, it’s going to be there, I think forever. It’s my favorite signature twist on a classic of espresso martini, which I call a Espresso Martiki. Ticky cocktails and really famous. Ticky culture is popular. Australia is a tropical vibe country. Always hot. The flavors, as you mentioned before, with Tropicana cocktail on the menu, coconut, pineapple, bananas, people understand those flavors and they are very familiar with them.
Martin Hudak: So I had this idea to create a tropical special martini instead of vodka, which can be sometimes boring or just diluted in the coffee taste. I use the rum. Very nice, beautiful aged, dark rum instead of any sugar, which you might use for espresso martini. I’m using Arshad. So this beautiful nuttiness is there. And then any DNA of tiki cocktails. Yes, you have the rum, you have orchard, of course you’re going to add some fresh tropical juice. We are using pineapple, of course Mr. Black, fresh espresso, shake it hard, garnish with some beautiful tropical flowers. And we selling more of those than just regular espresso martinis. Because people find it more interesting. They are like, Oh wow. It’s like so fresh. Of course, espresso martini don’t have to be just burned and bitter and sweet and boozy. It can be fun. And I beleive the espresso martiki is our number one best selling coffee cocktail.[25:28]
Christopher: And of course, you mentioned Mr. Black. And Mr. Black is a coffee liqueur. And you are the global coffee ambassador and I couldn’t really think of anyone better for that job title. How did that come around? Was this after the competitions? Were you talking to them before or you know, what was the route to that position?
Martin Hudak: Good question. I came across Mr. Blake first time, when I was in London, I think it was early 2015. The company was in the market, for one year in the U.K. I got this bottle, and I said, Oh my God, another free stock for us. People always bringing the brands. I was like, ah, coffee liqueur, it’s going to be super sweet and sugary. Then I taste it and I’m like fuck, they’re delicious. They like coffee. That’s cool. I want to know more. I want to know more. So I worked with Mr. Blake for like many years. I was big fan of the brand. And of course, when I was doing around the world, bridging the gap between the world of coffee and cocktails. The same eaters and same approach had Mr. Black as well. And when I moved to Australia, it was just like a logical step, that guys reached out and ask me, okay, listen, you’re doing what we do. Why we don’t do it together? Why we don’t do like a coffee revolution.
Martin Hudak: Let’s bring the craft coffee into the night. Let’s do together. They put the offer on the table, and they said, we never did it. We don’t have a global coffee ambassador. We want to create a position, which was never ever created in this industry. You are not just Brand Ambassador, you’re a coffee ambassador. You’re going to basically preach about coffee cocktails, you want to take it? I was like, hell yeah. How can I take this responsibility? I want to be the first guy with this beautiful brand. We’re going to basically change the perception of coffee cocktails and how we look at the coffee liqueur or coffee category. And it’s already a year and half, I’m with the brand and I cannot be happier, and luckier, to work with such amazing people. Going around the world, opening new markets, spreading the passion for coffee cocktails. And I think the recent results which came like two weeks ago, at Drinks International Review of 2019 came out, and a top 10 trending liqueurs. Last year we were number 10, within top 10 on the edge. This year we moved to number six. We can clearly see that people are loving us and loving cocktails more and more.[27:41]
Christopher: I mean, it was the perfect platform to unleash your nerdiness about coffee, really, wasn’t it?
Martin Hudak: Yeah, absolutely.[27:47]
Christopher: I love Mr. Black as well, I’ve used it before, in previous bars I’ve worked in. And one of the things is it’s 10 times more coffee and less sugar. That’s one of the things.
Martin Hudak: Yes. You’re good.[27:57]
Christopher: I try to do my research. Where is the coffee bean sourced from? Is this quite, is this something you’re involved in too?
Martin Hudak: Yeah, that’s a great question. We have an amazing team of people. First of all, we have a head distiller, Master Cilla, Phillip Morford, Distillery Botanica, who was one of the first massive trap distillers back in 2006. So he’s in charge of spirits itself. Then we have a head roaster, beautiful human being from Germany, working in the wine industry for many, many years. Of course. He has a PhD, he’s a doctor of science of chemistry. So if you figure I’m nerdy, these guys even nerdier. German doctor talking about, total dissolved solids in the water and mineral contents, caffeine and everything. So we have these brains on the board, and that lesson is possible for sourcing coffee beans forever. Like know Mr. Black. Of course. Now being me being in the company for longer, I’m getting involved with some specific, single origin or specific limited release edition.
Martin Hudak: So I’m happy to go to the origin as well, and put my hands on. And yes, Mr. Black on its own, you have to understand, something like the blended whiskey, we’re creating the most uniform, the most balanced and tastiest coffee liquor on earth. So we are blending through different origin, Colombia, Papua New Guinea and Kenya. Because we have to understand coffee’s fruit, coming from different parts of the world. It’s going to have, of course, different tastes and we creating this beautiful blend of fruity flavors, citrusy flavors, so everything that you’re tasting in Mr. Black, is just do the natural flavor of the coffee. And for now, we have those three different origins. And of course, recently, we just really released our first single origin Colombia, very focusing on one specific farm, one specific lot and processing. Where we want to show the people that yes, Mr. Black is versatile, is great for cocktail, but as well, it can be great for just sipping on its own like single malt whiskey. It can be very specific, and this is just the beginning, we want to show the people that coffee has so much potential. And every time, can taste different.[30:03]
Christopher: Brilliant. I really want to dive into this actually, about coffee, and especially the future of coffee cocktails. One question I had, because currently, there’s about a hundred different types of coffee?
Martin Hudak: Oh, yeah. But even way more we don’t know about it. Coffee is such a young industry, compared to spirits or wine, they are here for 3,000 years, coffee, 300. It’s so new, every day we discovering something new. As you said, yeah. one hundred and fifty, but how many used? Almost like even 10%, almost nothing.[30:31]
Christopher: Do you prefer to use in single origin or blends, when it comes to using coffee in cocktails?
Martin Hudak: Depends on what you’re looking for. It’s a good question. Like I like single origins because they are more specific and they are more different, in terms of taste and palette. And I like blends too, because they are more universal and easier to use. So let’s say, you want to create perfect espresso martini. You grab regular Mr. Black, because it’s balanced. It is everything what you want. Unless you want to be more niche, or nerdy, and you want to create your mixologist craft coffee cocktail. So maybe you might use, our Mr. Black Amaro, which is infused with botanicals. Another lemon of it. You might maybe use our single origin which has slightly different taste than normal Mr. Black, it’s more fermented. It’s more kind of like dry fruits going on. It’s much lighter on the palate. So it really depends what you’re looking for, in terms a craft cocktails. You have to start with the coffee liquers. And I’m always trying to explain to baristas and young bartenders, if you want to do good coffee cocktail, start with the coffee.[31:35]
Christopher: And what type of techniques would you recommend people to use? I mean everyone knows the expresso martini just sort of shut the shot in. But there’s obviously, a lot of different other practices that are in place. You mentioned rotovap earlier. What techniques would you say, are best to represent coffee as a flavor?
Martin Hudak: I put it in perspective of coffee shops. You go to a coffee shop, you have an espresso. And then you’re going to have another special from different coffee shop, on different street. It’s going to be always different, because of different beans, different technique, different barista, different results. If you want to achieve the most consistent and tasty, cup of coffee for your coffee cocktails, I would highly recommend technique of doing a cold brew. That’s what Mr. Blake do. Cold brew is a very simple combination of coffee grounds steeped in the water for certain time, certain amount. It’s a cold technique, where you preserve natural flavor of the coffee without being just bitter or acidic. But it’s very more naturally sweet. Now, cold brew is nothing new. It’s on the market for 10 years, five years coming from the U.S. But originally, cold brew came from Japan, from Quito. We’re going back to 16th centuries where Dutch traders were trading their goods with the Japanese monks, and Japanese traders.
Martin Hudak: And that was the first time where they brought the coffee plants over there, and they didn’t know how to preserve the flavor of roasted beans. So they put it in water, and they taste this water later on, and realized, wow, it’s tasty. So I highly recommend if you don’t have a technology like coffee machine, if you don’t have, hot water, you don’t have a kettle, et cetera, I think cold brew is the most easy technique, how to create a beautiful, delicious coffee beverage. And then on top of that, basically it’s Mr. Black. It’s nothing else than just cold brew with a little bit of sugar and spirit. Always consistently made, always consistently preserved. And I highly recommend to start with that. If you want to be more geeky, yes, I saw people doing clarification’s. I saw people using rotovat. Of course, go for it, because this is the golden era of coffee cocktails. And I cannot wait to see more bartenders be geeky about coffee, as ingredients and play around.[33:39]
Christopher: Oh, fantastic. Okay. And I mean, where are we going next? We’re in the golden age. What’s the future for coffee cocktails?
Martin Hudak: I believe… It’s funny, when I moved to London 2014/15, I tried to implement craft coffee in the Savoy. I tried to like talk about coffee cocktails and no one was interested. None of the hotel bars in London, none of the craft bars, they were like taking care of this. And then, look at now, even one of the greatest [inaudible 00:34:05] on earth, Eric Lawrence, he’s using his own coffee Negroni. He’s doing coffee Negroni. His own coffee, they roast their own beans. Remy Savash, Ex-artesian, has this little small roaster at home, [inaudible 00:34:19] Japan one. Where he’s doing his own fermented coffee sodas and stuff like that. You see bartenders being more geeky and being more serious, implementing Mr. Black in their beverage program. And it’s just outstanding.
Martin Hudak: It’s just outstanding to see where we are right now, compared to free four years ago. And I think the future be more focused on quality of ingredients itself. I think the same way as we are focusing on our ice program. Same as we are focusing our top shelf single malt whiskeys or [inaudible 00:34:51] spirits, I think bartending is going to focus more on coffee, on its own. And they started to maybe getting proper consultings from outside for coffee programs. And they’re going to spend some time on education about espresso and cold brews. And it’s really happening. It’s happening everywhere, from U.S. to Asia, to Australia, to Europe. As Mr. Black growing globally, same coffee cocktail culture growing. And the future is bright, the future is big and I believe that we are going to see a great, great coffee cocktails in 2020.[35:24]
Christopher: Fantastic. You mentioned education. Can you recommend for some of the listeners, some of the bartenders, resources that they can use to learn about coffee?
Martin Hudak: Definitely. My favorite book, I highly recommend to everyone, and even within our team of the ambassadors for Mr. Black, we are always giving this book to everyone. It’s like a Bible. It’s called, Atlas of Coffee. Atlas of Coffee from James Hoffman. He’s one of the greatest coffee geek in this world. So Atlas of Coffee is the book which I highly recommend to have at home, every time you need to have any answers, look in this. If you want to be more social, and use social media, use the internet, everyday internet. I think one of the greatest websites where you can find all the information is Perfect Daily Grind. Coffee Daily Grind it’s been established in Europe. They have various websites, going across America, Europe and Asia. I highly recommend this, and as well, a very famous one of the first coffee websites, coming from Portland, Oregon. It’s spruge.com. Those dudes that are like super geeky, all the news you want to know, just check it out. Or, maybe if you want to, reach me out on my Instagram account, Martin_Hudack drop me a message anytime you want, any question you have, any help you need, I’m here to help and answer. I really, really believe that we should exchange our information that we have and it should be for free.[36:56]
Christopher: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you so much for those resources, I think they’re going to be really useful. Especially for me, I’m going to grab that book as soon as I can. There’s another thing I want to talk to you today which really links into what we’ve been discussing. You mentioned you have a new private coffee company coming out, Spiritual Coffee.? Did you want to touch on that?
Martin Hudak: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for asking. It’s very exciting project. I’m working with this company silently behind the scenes, over a year for now. And Spiritual Coffee is something what I believe, it’s really myself, I’m a guy who worked with coffee. I’m a guy who worked with cocktails. And spirit and coffee is always something what I was doing and I will do. And these little ritual in between spiritual coffee, it’s like everyday ritual. We wake up, we have a cup of coffee,. We go out there, our favorite cocktail, and I really want to combine the world of coffee and cocktails. And that’s why I decided to open my own consulting company. Where I’m going to help cocktail bars and coffee shops as well, at the same time, to understand the importance of good quality coffee, and importance of good quality spirits.
Martin Hudak: And to do this, it’s not only just going to your venue and create the menu, but give you assets, give you as well the most important thing you need, and that’s coffee. And that’s why I’m launching within couple of months my own coffee capsules. If you think about the greatest brands like Nespresso, they are killing it. Basically, what they’re doing is they’re giving an opportunity to people, having a good coffee cup at home. And that’s what I want to do. I want to help bartenders, to have a good cup of coffee without investing all the money, effort into technology and knowledge. You can buy a little capsule machine for less than $50. And you can buy one of the greatest premium coffee beans roasted by myself in recyclable coffee pods. And then, basically, you can make espresso martini within 30 seconds. You just bought the hood specialty espresso capsule from me. You grab Mr. Blake, you measure it, one-to-one, two-to-one, maybe add it with vodka and you shake it and you have… I want my specialty coffee roasted by me, be accessible to everyone.[39:09]
Christopher: That’s brilliant. Is this worldwide, is this globally accessible to everyone?
Martin Hudak: Absolutely. It’s going to be worldwide for sale from my website and ship everywhere. And from the beans, if you want to have just beans, from the capsules, from the consulting, from everything. Really, it’s time for me to basically be there, and help you to create better coffee cocktail program, together with Mr. Black, together iwth Spiritual Coffee.[39:33]
Christopher: Great. Can’t wait to see. So will they be launching this year, Spiritual Coffee?
Martin Hudak: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Aiming, early spring, spiritualcoffee.com. Alongside with the Instagram account. It’s going to be linked naturally with myself as a marketing with that. So reach out, have a look if you want to sample, cannot wait to send you over.[39:53]
Christopher: Great. Well, I think we’ll wrap up. There’s one last question I have, which is going to be a good one. How do you drink your coffee in the morning? What is the best way to do it?
Martin Hudak: Good question. Very good question. So I like to have a milky beverage for breakfast. I like my coffee made with oatmeal or soy meal. So flood white, preferably with some nice, beautiful croissant, or avo and salsa in Australia. Then moving on, I would carry on with some nice pullover or batch brew coffee. So bigger, dark, black, heavy. Then before the shift at Sammy, if I’m busy, I’m just gonna double-check and taste our espresso in-house. I’m going to express a shot, and then later or the night, when I’m just thirsty, I’m going to have a cold brew on the rocks. This is kind of evolution of my coffee day.[40:42]
Christopher: I love it. Okay Martin, thank you so much for coming on today and sharing with us your passion for coffee. It’s been great. I think the audience love it. Good luck for everything in the future. Can’t wait to see Spiritual Coffee. Can’t wait to see what Maybe Sammy does, as well. I mean what a fantastic year to start.
Martin Hudak: Yeah, we are planning lots of projects. So, put your eyes there and watch what we’ll be doing.[41:04]
Christopher: Brilliant. Martin, thanks a lot. Have a good week.
Martin Hudak: Thanks very much. Thank you.
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