Coffee culture

There is a Starbucks within a 10-minute walk of my office, so I often pop in there at various times of the day when I need a little caffeine boost. The energy there never ceases to amaze me — it seems the store is always filled with everyone ranging from parents with toddlers in tow to young professionals pecking away at laptops to groups of friends of all ages enjoying each other’s company.

It’s no secret that coffee shops — and coffee itself — tend to breed a convivial atmosphere and a unique brand of energy. That’s part of the reason Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts has coordinated the Taste of Discovery Coffee Challenge since 2009. Held at illycaffé’s University of coffee in Trieste, Italy, this year the competition pitted eight finalists against each other as they created an espresso, a cappuccino and a freestyle espresso-based beverage for judges. Serge Depoisier from Le Méridien Beach Plaza in Monaco garnered first prize, which includes a course at the University of coffee, with his raspberry- and chocolate-tinged Lamponilly. Here is his recipe:


  • 30 ml espresso
  • 40 ml vodka
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 6 raspberries
  • 1 coffee-spoon bitter chocolate powder
  • 1 splash sparkling water
  • 3 raspberries (garnish)


  • Crush the raspberries and sugar together, thoroughly.
  • Add the vodka and mix.
  • Add crushed ice until approximately 2/3 of the glass is full, then add chocolate powder.
  • Pour the espresso and sparkling water, then top with decoration and straw.
  • Serve in a wine glass.

Beyond the tasty drinks created, Le Méridien says the competition fosters associate engagement as well as pride in the brand’s coffee culture. It’s an idea worth some buzz; I just wish I could pick up a Lamponilly at my local Starbucks.