10979454_10152951154858889_1518542029_nDid you know we’ve had a regular champion hanging out at Tellus360 the past few weeks?

An Irish lad by the name of Fiachra McKenna is the 2014 National Irish Coffee Maker of Ireland, as well as the Guinness pouring champion of the Irish province of Connacht.

Fiachra (Fake-ruh) grew up in County Monaghan in Ireland, moved to Galway to study quantity surveying at University (think engineering), and along the way picked up a part time job tending bar at Taaffes Bar. While there he met some a young lad named Donal Lally…and the rest, is history. Yes, the same Donal Lally who tends bar at Tellus360 and books a lot of the bands who play here. You see, Donal’s father manages Taaffes bar, and that’s the connection. Fiachra worked alongside Donal and his brother Mairtin at the pub.

According to Fiachra, a group of “secret shoppers” went around Ireland looking for the best Irish coffee makers, creating a short list of bartenders. After a few heats in the Foynes Irish Coffee Festival (sponsored in part by Powers Irish Whiskey and Bewley’s Coffee), the finalists competed by making both traditional Irish coffee, as well as making one with their own twist (more on that later). The competition was in Foynes, County Limerick, the home of Irish coffee. The irony? Fiachra doesn’t even like coffee!

 

He ended up winning the competition, and along with a trophy and some cash, received round trip airfare to New York City. So what’s a lad to do when he flies in to NYC?

Why, rent a car and immediately drive to Lancaster to visit his good friend Donal, of course! Which is why he’s been hanging out at Tellus360 and taking in the Lancaster scene. He says, “Lancaster is a cool city, with a small town kinda vibe. Everyone knows everyone. They are very friendly and love the Irish! It’s similar to a typical Irish town. Nice community feel.”

As for his local favorites, aside from Tellus, of course, Fiachra is fond of Dipco (“I like the food and drink. It’s very relaxing“), the Fridge (“It’s a great idea for a bar back home. The pizza is really good.“), and La Dolce Vita Courthouse Bakery (“Love the rolls!“). He’s also loves Lancaster Central Market (“It’s great to get fresh vegetables and grass-fed meat.“), the historic aspects of the Lancaster County Convention Center, and will be checking out Amish country in the cold.

Which brings us to our Lancaster winter: “It’s freezing! Cold like I’ve never experienced! But it’s crisp and dry,” which was perfect for his ski trip to Ski Roundtop.

Fiachra says he’ll be in the United States for about five months, and has some visits planned for New York City, Boston, Chicago, Houston, and then Los Angeles to visit his brother who is an engineer there. From there, he’ll be exploring up and down the Pacific coast before possibly returning to Lancaster. In fact, he’ll be returning for one day on March 5 to host an Irish Coffee demonstration for all of you!

Speaking of that champion quality Irish coffee, what’s in it and how do you make it?

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 ounces of Jameson
  • 4 ounces of coffee
  • 1/2-ounce of vanilla syrup
  • 1 ounce of freshly whipped cream (his winning entry was colored with green food coloring)

Heat a glass Irish coffee mug with warm water so that the coffee stays warm

Empty the glass, then add the brown sugar, then the whiskey, then coffee, then vanilla syrup, and stir. Finish it by floating the cream on top.

Enjoy, and let us know what you think. Also, drop by on March 5 to sample one made by the champion!