Well Dallas, think your favorite barista at your favorite coffee shop "makes the perfect cappuccino" or "pulls the best shots of espresso in town?" Then you may want to head over to White Rock Coffee this weekend for the chance to see how he or she stacks up against the shop's own, competition-winning barista Jon Meadows.
What's the big deal about this particular shot-slinger? Seems Meadows--who's also the shop's coffee roaster--took fifth place in the 2010 South Central Regional Barista Competition held in Austin in January. Which according to a White Rock Coffee press release, makes him the first Dallas barista to land in the top six of the competition. By placing in the top six, baristas advance to the United States Barista Championship, and this year's competition takes place April 15-18 in Anaheim, California.
To showcase Meadow's talents, celebrate his big win and, you know, to help sell a few extra cappuccino, he'll be behind the shop's espresso bar this Friday through Sunday evening from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. But a word of warning for the coffee wimps: Don't think he'll be making your frou-frou raspberry white chocolate whatever with extra whipped cream. Meadows will only be serving his three competition-winning, coffee-snob-pleasing selections.
So, in advance of his "showcase" this weekend, Roasted made a special trip to White Rock Coffee to order one of each of his winning concoctions. Only one problem: He didn't have any grapefruits yet. Gotta be fresh-squeezed you know.
In these barista competitions, the competitors are critiqued by four sets of judges on three drinks. First, they have to pull some damn-near perfect straight shots of espresso. They've also got to froth-up a mean cappuccino. The third drink lets the baristas show off their skills with a special recipe of their own creation.
Meadows drink involves unfiltered honey, espresso and some fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. Roasted hears good things about it, though no luck trying it yesterday. Meadows said he prefers Texas Rio Star grapefruits, by the way.
As for his talents when it comes to the coffee shop staples of espresso and cappuccino, well, his cappuccino was the best Roasted's sipped in a long time. Perfectly frothed micro-foam poured over some espresso--a special competition roast that he roasted himself just days ago.
What's the secret to making a good cappuccino?
"Properly steamed milk--micro-foam--you don't want a whole lot of bubbles," he said. "And it can't be too hot, you want it between 140 and 150 degrees. There's a natural sugar in the milk, a sweetness, at that temperature."
Most coffee shops, he said, require their baristas to steam the milk over 160 degrees, which cooks off that sweetness, he said. And, Roasted can attest that no sweetener or sugar or flavored syrup was needed to make the drink wonderfully smooth and sweet to the taste.
The espresso. Well, the last time Roasted had espresso that good was probably in Austin. Oddly enough, it was in Austin last month, during South by Southwest, that Roasted first heard word of Meadow's fifth place win. It was just after declaring our love for an espresso macchiato prepared by two award-winning baristas who work for Austin's Caffe Medici.
We'll keep following Meadows as he heads to the USBC in two weeks, but it you want to get a taste of his talent before the judges in Anaheim do, well, you know where to go this weekend.