One of the very first accounts that I won when I started Wildflour Bakery was an espresso bar in Maynooth, then named Boss Hogg and under the ownership of one of the best baristas in Ireland, Daniel Ordibehesht. It intrigued and delighted me, not least because it seemed like an oxymoron in its rural setting. It was (and is) focused on serving coffee from beans sourced from a selection of the finest coffee suppliers in the world, in an experimental and envelope-pushing environ that sticks out in the seminary town of Maynooth like a sore (yet thrilling) thumb.
It has since changed hands between best friends and is now owned by Adam O’Keefe and named Atlas Unit 1 (yet curiously straddles both names depending upon from which social media platform you engage with it). This has become something of an in-joke and now the coffee bar archly changes name daily, its transient moniker adorned in temporary marker on the glass menu board inside… ”Today we are…*insert as mood dictates*. If anywhere else pulled this it would seem smug, but here it is just indicative of them not sweating the small stuff. They focus on coffee for the sake of brilliant coffee, and the lack of a fixed name is symptomatic of a lack of ego not a lack of focus.
I always make the deliveries to Atlas Unit 1 myself, as there is nothing surer to keep you inspired. I love walking in to this place and finding my barista boys huddled over a new piece of kit or a guest bean which must be extracted in a multitude of ways, to be luxuriated over and learnt like a theorem. We’re talking pure, unadulterated passion, which is probably the quality I admire most in any person. They are mad scientists, fearless explorers of unchartered territory, knights questing for the holy grail. Last month Atlas Unit 1 hosted a coffee and whiskey pairing night, and it was glorious.
Wildflour Bakery was invited to devise the canapés, and we took the opportunity to hit them up with some savoury as well as sweet options. I wanted to design a menu that would go well with all the whiskeys and coffees being served, but with some very particular pairings in mind too. We served:
- Butterbean puree with smoked olive oil and toasted almonds on corn tortillas
- St. Tola ash-covered goats cheese with wildflower honey and coffee grinds on spelt crackers
- Comte, pink peppercorn and black sesame cocktail cookies
- 70% Single origin dark chocolate, nut and tonka bean triangles
- Burnt blood orange, almond and chicory cakes
I also brought along some amazing single origin chocolate bars from my favourite Irish producers Bean & Goose.
Here is a brief outline of the craic we had: Green Spot is an Irish single pot still whiskey: sweet, honeyed, some toasty oak and an extraordinarily smooth finish. It was paired with Square Mile El Mirador, a fruity, chemex-filtered coffee with a very creamy mouthfeel that paired particularly well with the goats cheese canapé – the saltiness contrasted the fruity sweetness of both the coffee and whiskey, the wildflower honey drew out the honey notes in the whiskey while the bitter punctuation of the coffee grinds bridged the flavours. We also paired this with Tanzanie chocolate, a single origin 75% which is powerful, fruity and spicy.
The Suntory Yamazaki 12 is a really exciting Japanese whisky that has a more spiced flavour profile, with candied orange and Japanese oak on the nose, coconut and butter on the palate and spice on the finish. This inspired my burnt orange cakes – the action of charring the blood oranges over a flame before incorporating them into the almond-based cake drew out both the candied orange and the woody notes of the whisky, while the chicory drew out its spice. It was paired with Brazilian chemex-filtered Saquerama Minas Gerias, a naturally processed coffee with deeply smooth, brown sugar sweetness and slight vanilla undertones, a smooth caramel mouthfeel. It complemented the deep complexity and long smoky sweetness of the single malt. This we paired with Papousie chocolate, a single origin 35% milk chocolate with a notes of caramel, smoke and dried fruit.
My dark chocolate and tonka triangles were specifically to pair with the Jack Daniels Single Barrel Coffee Old Fashioned cocktail, which had notes of chocolate, coffee and orange. It was paired with Red Brick espresso, a blend of Brazilian and Costa Rican coffee, one of Square Mile’s seasonal espresso blends. We paired this with St Domingue, a smooth, dark and mellow chocolate.
The evening was exceptionally good fun, especially getting to collaborate with some of the finest minds in coffee and chocolate and exploring whiskeys together to come up with some amazing adventures in flavour. To be repeated.
Coffee: Square Mile, curated by Adam O’Keefe of Atlas Unit 1, and executed by Adam O’Keefe and Jack Corrigan
Whiskey: Green Spot, Yamazaki 12 and Jack Daniels Single Barrel
Canapés: Kate Packwood of Wildflour Bakery
Chocolate: Karen & Natalie Keane of Bean & Goose
Photography: Michael Wilkens