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The Elixir Specialty Coffee Origin Story

by Elixir Specialty Coffee | | Blog, Elixir Specialty Coffee Origin Story | 0 Comments

As with all great entrepreneurial stories, the creation of the Elixir Specialty Coffee brand is the result of a happy accident that came from trying to solve one problem and ended up the start of a totally different adventure. On first sip, at that moment, creator Lee Safar knew that Elixir would go on to change the direction of her life, and instantly decided to take on the extraordinary challenge of introducing the first truly innovative coffee beverage in decades to the global market. Here is the origin story of how Elixir Specialty Coffee was first created.

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Elixir Specialty Coffee was (unintentionally) created back in August 2014 when long-time Australian specialty coffee professional, Lee Safar, was working on finding interesting ways to showcase specialty coffee at the bakery where she was employed.


Lee, the head barista at a well known and respected high-end bakery in Sydney Australia at the time, had asked the owners of the bakery if they were open to expanding the coffee program beyond the espresso only menu. She believed that offering new brew methods like pour-overs and batch brewed coffee, and carefully selecting single-origin beans suited specifically to those brew methods, would present customers the opportunity to appreciate the diversity of how this complex agricultural product, coffee, could be enjoyed.


Given the limited countertop real estate in the bakery, Lee's requests were turned down by the owners and she decided to take a new approach to the situation. She asked the bakers permission to create a cake that featured specialty coffee as the flavor focal point of the dessert, to highlight the more nuanced delicately complex flavor profiles in coffee rather than the bitterness that usually features in coffee focused desserts.


The baker agreed and, drawing from her Syrian heritage, Lee set out to create a ginger and cardamom cake with a silky vanilla bean buttercream frosting and center layer, adorned with a crown of delicate luscious coffee poached pear adorning the crown of the cake.


Lee savored the key challenge in how to infuse the inherent, subtle, and nuanced flavor characteristics of coffee (such as blueberry and stone fruits) into the poached pear without having to add these actual fruits/flavor ingredients into the poaching fluid. The ambition? Have the coffee itself be the key flavor agent for the pear to soak up and infuse these delicate nuanced flavor profile. 


With almost 15 years as a specialty coffee professional, a background in science, a career in music, and a newly discovered curiosity for Cymatics, Lee set out to see if it was possible to amplify flavor profiles the same way it seemed cymatics was amplifying and shaping the physical elements by using sound. After coming up with an idea of how she might approach this experiment, Lee formulated a test brew method for the extraction and upon tasting the first batch, realized that in trying to create a cake she had created a new coffee brew method. The ready to drink beverage that resulted from this brew method would go on to be called Elixir Specialty Coffee.


In the weeks and months following her discovery, Lee used her scientific training to test and refine hundreds of samples to perfect the brew method and flavor profile. In the process of trying to find the pique extraction point for the new (and proprietary) brew method, Lee created the first Elixir Rainbow - a cascade of 24 Elixir Specialty Coffee bottles each brewed for successive hours within a 24-hour period.


One of the first Elixir Rainbow's created during the testing phase of product development in Lee Safar's home kitchen in Bondi, Sydney. Sept 2014 Photo Credit: Lee Safar 


The brand was released as a ready to drink bottled beverage into carefully selected specialty coffee cafes in Sydney within seven months of the first batch being created. Six months later, it launched in cafes in the USA.


Today, Lee lives in San Diego, California, and is the CEO of Elixir Specialty Coffee Inc.


And the cake? Well, Lee left the bakery 5 months after creating Elixir and the "Elixir Cake" has gone on to be made in different iterations by chefs at exclusive Elixir Rainbow tasting events in Sydney, Los Angeles, and San Diego.


Try a smaller Elixir Rainbow today by purchasing an Elixir Trio.



The first private Elixir Rainbow tasting event attended by invited members of the specialty coffee industry 3 days before the official launch of the product in Sydney Australia. March 2015 Photo Credit: Viviana Barrero


The first private Elixir Rainbow tasting event attended by invited members of the specialty coffee industry 3 days before the official launch of the product in Sydney Australia. March 2015 Photo Credit: Viviana Barrero 


The first Elixir Rainbow tasting event at the Paramour Mansion in the hills of Silverlake, Los Angeles, California. October 2015 Photo Credit: Lee Safar



An Elixir Rainbow as showcased at Edition Coffee Roasters in Sydney, Australia, in the original packaging of Elixir. Photo Credit: @cesar_cae2


An Elixir Trio (Mini Elixir Rainbow) available now in the USA. To taste a mini Elixir Rainbow, grab an Elixir Trio now! Photo Credit: Jason Landon Russ