While the term Barista actually means a bartender who serves coffee, these days it is used to determine someone who has some expertise in the coffee-making process. Mennard Ndebele is one such person and makes sure that every cup of coffee served at Cape Grace has its beans freshly ground and served at the right temperature (nice and hot).
His advice for coffee lovers at home is not to burn the coffee during the brewing process and to drink it straight away after making, as keeping it warm on a hotplate will make it bitter. Ndebele says that your espresso machine is like a baby and needs to be handled with care and must be clean to give you good quality coffee.
His passion for coffee is shared the world over and reaches its zenith at the World Barista Championships. South Africa sent their top Barista, Ishan Natalie, to the competition last year in London and so did 51 other countries. The Nordic nations have dominated the championship in the past, but 2010 saw the top six finalists coming from far and wide;
- 1st – Michael Phillips (USA)
- 2nd - Raul Rodas (Guatemala)
- 3rd – Scottie Callaghan (Australia)
- 4th – Colin Harmon (Ireland)
- 5th – Soren Stiller Markussen (Denmark)
- 6th – Stefanos Domatiotis (Greece)
In a 15-minute performance set to music they have to present four espressos, four cappuccinos and four original signature drinks and are judged on taste, cleanliness, creativity, technical skill and overall presentation by a list of judges as long as your arm.
These are our Top Five weird and wonderful Champion Barista signature coffee drinks:
Michael Phillips (2010 World Barista Champion) impressed the judges with three different espresso signature drinks made from the same bean but processed in different ways:
1) A full-flavored natural bean fermented in the sun with the skin on was mixed with a ginger-rhubarb reduction.
2) The crisper, washed bean stripped of pulp was combined with tart cherry juice and Pellegrino, in a kind of coffee spritzer.
3) Lastly, he mixed a sweet bean espresso with a date reduction.
4) Our number 4 comes from the 2005 crowned World Champion, Troels Overdal Poulsen, who deconstructed the elements of his drink by serving mild melted pepper in a porcelain spoon beside a sweetened espresso and cold lavender syrup.
5) Lastly, we like the sound of New Zealand’s 2005 champ Carl Sara’s signature drink called ‘Insomnia’, which was a mix of espresso with honey, ground cinnamon, mandarin orange peel and a dash of cream on top, served on a platter of wispy dry ice, to woops and applause from the crowd.