The Belle of baristas
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Here's a Good Morning eye-opener. Can you say java? Can you say Joe? How 'bout "she sells seashells by the seashore?"
OK, we're talking a good morning here, and the South Hills' own nationally noted barista, one Belle Battista, above, will help us out.
On Feb. 15-17, Belle Battista the barista -- we're not making this up -- won the 2008 Mid-Atlantic Regional Barista Championships held in Washington, D.C.
To do so, the 26-year-old Mt. Lebanon woman she beat 27 competitors in a 15-minute performance during which she was judged on the technical, quality and sensory aspects of preparing and serving espresso beverages.
As regional champion, Mrs. Battista, whose skills are on display most days at Aldo Coffee Co., 675 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon, will next compete, all expenses paid, at the U.S. National Barista Championships in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 2-5. The winner will represent the United States in the world championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, June 19-22.
The competition is sponsored by the Specialty Coffee Association of America.
For her Spanish-themed presentation, Mrs. Battista drew on her time spent working at a cafe in Spain three years ago.
Against a background of guitar music, Mrs. Battista discussed Spanish customs, such as spending hours relaxing and drinking coffee, as she created her signature, self-dubbed "Sipa de Espana."
Based on a Spanish recipe, it features sipping chocolate, a shot of espresso, olive oil and salt, and is stirred with a bread stick.
Judges graded her technical skills as well as samples of her signature drink, espressos and cappuccinos.
Among the friends and family of Mrs. Battista who traveled to Washington, D.C., was Melanie Westerfield, who owns Aldo Coffee with husband Rich, and was a finalist herself last year.
Besides Mrs. Battista, the six finalists included two employees of Aldo Coffee: Sonja Schutte, of Mt. Lebanon, and John Casamassa, of Carrick.
Mrs. Battista would like to one day own her own coffee shop and said her secret to a good cup of coffee is "good beans and a good barista."
First Published March 27, 2008 6:14 am