Congratulations to Zoka's own Maki Campbell who won 2nd place with a skillful and polished performance at this year's Northwest Regional Barista Competition! In only her third competition, Maki stood out amid the field of competitors with her precision, speed and creativity. After a fifth place finish at last year's Northwest Regional and advancing through the first round of fifty competitors at the last US Barista Championship, Maki felt she could do better and set out to refine the various skill sets required in the craft of espresso preparation.
During the competition, each barista is given fifteen minutes to serve 12 drinks (4 espressos, 4 cappuccinos, 4 espresso based signature drinks created by the barista) to a panel of four sensory judges and one head judge. Throughout the performance, two technical judges score a barista on their technical competency. The winner of each regional competition is assured a spot in the semi-finals of the US Barista Championship and the winner of the USBC goes on to represent the US at the World Barista Championship.
A dedicated professional, Maki spent hours behind the espresso machine fine tuning her technique and polishing her routine. From minimizing waste to velvet cappuccino foam, from her knowledge and description of the espresso to her elegant table setting, Maki left no area of her performance untouched. And when it came time to perform, the countless hours of hard work paid off. The espresso poured beautifully and she served some of the best cappuccinos she has ever made.
Not only can Maki boast some of the best cappuccinos in the region, she is always pushing the envelope with creative and delicious signature drinks. This year's drink was called "Onyx". An espresso based drink, Onyx contains a homemade black soy bean syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon, a pinch of sea salt, and a touch of heavy whipping cream. Maki wanted to create a drink that was simple, healthy, and amazing. After a lot of experimenting in the kitchen and taste testing along the way by coworkers, Onyx was born. Black beans contain antioxidants as well as other healthful properties and Maki appreciated the connection of using two beans, black and coffee, to tie her drink together. (As a side note, not only did Maki create a tasty black bean syrup for her drink, she now has lots of yummy recipes for the cooked black beans that were a byproduct of the syrup!)
Maki loves being a barista because it is an art form which gives the artist immediate feedback. She loves to see the smiles and appreciation of those to whom she serves her espresso beverages. So stop by University Zoka and let Maki "wow" you with an espresso or one of her amazing capps!
p.s. Maki says thanks to the staff at Zoka for their enduring support.