Tue | Jul 23, 2024

Cafe Blue’s Barista Champion, Dillon McLeod, wins with a taste of Brazil

Published:Thursday | May 30, 2024 | 12:09 AMKrysta Anderson/Staff Reporter
Don’t you just love this smooth latte from People’s Choice Award winner Ricardo Jackson?
Don’t you just love this smooth latte from People’s Choice Award winner Ricardo Jackson?
Second-place recipient Ricardo Jackson, representing Colombia, in presentation mode.
Second-place recipient Ricardo Jackson, representing Colombia, in presentation mode.
Romell Bailey showcases his lovely latte for the judges to have a taste of Guatemala.
Romell Bailey showcases his lovely latte for the judges to have a taste of Guatemala.
Cafe Blue’s 2023 barista champion, Ann-Marie Ferguson, pours her signature drink, Café Rosé, inspired by France, for the judges.
Cafe Blue’s 2023 barista champion, Ann-Marie Ferguson, pours her signature drink, Café Rosé, inspired by France, for the judges.
Hard at work, Ann-Marie Ferguson, the rose of the competition, brews rich flavours for the judges.
Hard at work, Ann-Marie Ferguson, the rose of the competition, brews rich flavours for the judges.
Sharing Elixir de Hibisco for the judges, Romell Bailey received the award for Best Signature Drink.
Sharing Elixir de Hibisco for the judges, Romell Bailey received the award for Best Signature Drink.
Dillon McLeod, better known as ‘The Charmer’, completed the trifecta by serenading the crowd with his rendition of the Mata Velha High Ball, made with Brazilian rum, Mata Velha Cachaça Ouro.
Dillon McLeod, better known as ‘The Charmer’, completed the trifecta by serenading the crowd with his rendition of the Mata Velha High Ball, made with Brazilian rum, Mata Velha Cachaça Ouro.
McLeod also walked away with the Most Technical Barista and Best Presentation awards.
McLeod also walked away with the Most Technical Barista and Best Presentation awards.
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What do Ethiopia, France, Colombia, Brazil, Guatemala, and Jamaica have in common? They are home to some of the greatest coffee known to man. Blending beyond borders through a global exchange of flavours, local bean-to-cup connoisseur Cafe Blue challenged five of its talented baristas to engage the senses and offer a panel of esteemed judges the most tasteful multicultural Java experience. In a heated showdown at The Courtleigh Hotel on Labour Day, Dillon McLeod emerged as the ultimate victor, representing Brazil.

McLeod, who hails from the Constant Spring Branch, revealed that this was his third year entering the competition and he returned with more knowledge and confidence than before. Adorned in the Brazilian jersey, he explained cool facts about his appointed country, noting that Brazil champions in both football and coffee.

“Whether on the football pitch or on the coffee plantations, these traditions are intricately woven in the nation’s identity, symbolising excellence of Brazil’s rich heritage,” he highlighted during his presentation.

Throughout the espresso, latte, and signature drink categories, McLeod, better known as ‘The Charmer’, flawlessly executed his skills and flair in the preparation segment. He presented cool notes of nuts, spices, caramel, and chocolate, found in both Arabica coffee and locally grown beans from the Blue Mountains. McLeod invited the judges to look for these flavour profiles, enhancing the tasting experience.

“Please take note of the melted chocolate, grapefruit and cherry at medium acidity for my espresso,” McLeod shared in the first segment. By round two, the comedy was in full flight as he showcased his charisma and entertained his attentive audience, sharing tastes of melted chocolate ice cream, crème brulee, “and a pleasant touch of rum, sugar and hazelnut,” he added.

When it came time for his signature drink, the charmer completed the trifecta by serenading the crowd with his rendition of the Mata Velha High Ball, made with the Brazilian Rum, Mata Velha Cachaça Ouro.

He told his cheerful audience, post-victory, that he had no plans on entering the competition. If it were not for the encouragement from the company’s managing director, Jason Sharp, McLeod declared that he wouldn’t be this year’s barista champion.

But you know what they say: pressure makes diamonds. And McLeod rose to the occasion, and through knowledge, hard work and dedication, he was able to masterfully outshine his café colleagues.

Driving innovation and curating great barista and coffee culture, Sharp spoke with much enthusiasm how pleased he was with each of the contestants who have all entered the competition before. “This is what Cafe Blue is all about. Today is a special day for me because I’ve watched Dillon grow as a barista. He said he wasn’t entering this year; he wasn’t confident. But I told him that I believed in him and he could do it. The moment he decided to enter, I could see his focus. He was constantly practising, asking for help and researching. It doesn’t happen by chance; it doesn’t happen by a gift. It always happens when you put your heart, passion and focus into it,” he said.

Finishing second place, Ricardo Jackson took his viewers on an exciting journey to Colombia through cups of espresso and latte coffee, completing the presentation with his take of Tropical Paradise. Additionally, he was the winner of the Barista People’s Choice Award.

Going for Guatemala, Romell Bailey, also known as the upsetter, managed to make a tasty comeback in the face of difficulty, claiming the third place and highlighting his signature drink, Elixir de Hibisco.

The only female to enter the competition, last year’s winner, Ann-Marie Ferguson, better known as ‘The Rose’, took coffee lovers and judges to the heart of Paris, bringing the sipping romance of France with signature drink, Cafe Rosé. And last but certainly not least, Dornel Gordon, the underdog, journeyed to Ethiopia, educating the crowd and wrapping up his presentation with his signature drink, Buna Rue Blend.

krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com