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Food

How About Coffee Drinks Made With Sriracha or Pork Belly?

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The winning coffee included pork belly with nori and lavender-infused cappuccino (Photo by Onur Yeldan, courtesy the Iron Barista competition)
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This week found L.A. coffee pros hard at work behind the bar pulling shots and all the punches to compete in the inaugural Iron Barista competition. The event pitted six coffee places against one another in a showdown where competitors had to concoct quaff-able coffee drinks using a set of surprise ingredients.

The six coffee places competing in the Iron Barista challenge were: Host venue Cafe Demitasse; Primo Passo; Single Origin; Cognoscenti Coffee; Cafe Dulce; and Augie's coffee house.

Up first, competitors had to use any of the following: Sriracha sauce, dates, lychee, Captain Crunch, milk powder and oranges. For reals? Egads. Turns out, unlike on some of the similarly-structured food TV shows, they weren't required to use all the ingredients (can you imagine that cup of Joe?) but rather as many as they wanted.

We wondered if judges Lazy Ox Chef Perfecto Rocher, cocktail maven and writer Caroline on Crack, and food writer Lesley Balla had iron stomachs, too, so we checked in with Caroline on Crack, who admitted some of the stronger flavors didn't really come through in drinks made in the first heats, actually to her disappointment.

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After a series of first-round heats, the competition was brewed down to two final teams, Single Origin and Cafe Dulce. For that final round, the secret ingredient options were chosen by Rocher: kobacha squash, Japanese plums, Pork belly, lavender, and nori.

The winner was Dulce, who had judges eat a spoonful of pork belly topped with nori before they sipped a cappuccino made with with lavender infused milk. Their prize: Glory (of course) and $150.

There are plans for more Iron Barista events this summer, too. What would you put in their secret ingredient baskets?