Brooke Draney

Crema of the Crop

Brooke Draney WinnerBrooke Draney named 2017 Zarraffa’s Barista of the Year

After three steaming heats, the recent 2017 Zarraffa’s Coffee Barista Competition reached a piping hot finish, with 25-year-old Brooke Draney taking home top honours.

Over three days, 19 contestants representing Toowoomba North, Heathwood, Worongary, Acacia Ridge, Calamvale, Beenleigh, Chatswood Road, Cairns, Currimundi, Toowoomba Drive Thru and Helensvale stores were required to make an espresso, latte and a signature beverage (using only Zarraffa’s products) within a 15-minute timeframe. Contestants also displayed their knowledge of the coffee bean, and a comprehensive understanding of the coffee they were producing. Throughout the contest, they were judged by a panel of experts including Zaraffa’s Training Manager, Jennifer Goodall.

After intense opening rounds, the finalists were narrowed down to Doug from the Worongary, Nerang, Slacks Creek and Acacia Ridge group of stores, Joshua from Heathwood, Levi from Beenleigh, Isaac from Beenleigh, Brooke from Acacia Ridge and Kate from Head Office. Ultimately it was Brooke who took out the top gong, with her signature drink – Maple Espresso with Peanut Butter Pouring Cream.

Fresh from her win, Brooke, sat down with us to speak about the competition and what the title means to her.


GM: Hi Brooke, congratulations on your win. Which Zarraffa’s store do you represent?

BD: Hi! I represented the Acacia Ridge store in the barista competition but recently started working at the Slacks Creek store.

GM: How long have you been a barista?

BD: 10 years this year.

GM: What made you want to become a barista?

BD: To be honest, I didn’t really decide I wanted to be a barista. It was honestly the first job I got when I was 15 years old. I think I was actually really terrible at the job for a pretty long time, but when I started to get better at it, it turned out I really enjoyed it.

GM: How did you feel when you were announced this year’s winner?

BD: When Kenton (Campbell, Founder of Zarraffa’s) announced I was the winner, I think I was in shock. I knew I had worked my butt off, but I never imagined that I would win.

GM: Have you entered the contest before?

BD: I entered the contest a few years back when it was done in groups. I entered with two of my close friends Kate and Hannah, and while we had a fun time we didn’t make it to round two. Since then we can all say we have been barista competition finalists!

GM: Have your colleagues been giving you any special treatment since bringing home the trophy?

BD: No, not really any special treatment but there’s definitely a lot more pressure on me now.

GM: What was your winning recipe inspired by?

BD: My winning recipe was inspired by my time spent living in Vancouver, Canada. I lived there for 16 months and indulged in a lot of delicious maple-y and peanut butter-y treats.

GM: What would be the perfect food item to complement your winning creation?

BD: I think my drink would go perfectly with banana pancakes.

GM: How did you prepare in the lead up to the competition?

BD: I spent a lot of time before and after work in store practicing for the comp. I made everyone in my store taste my drinks a hundred times to help me perfect them. I also studied the judges’ scores and comments very closely to see where I needed to improve each round.

One thing that helped me mentally prepare on the day was listening to Metallica on the drive down the coast. Somehow it really helps me get in the zone and focus.

GM: How did you do in the espresso and latte portions of the contest?

BD: My tech is what I scored best in, so doing everything by the book helped me score really well in the espresso round. My lattes are what I thought needed the most work in the lead up to the competition, so I practiced the heck out of them and I guess I did alright!

GM: Will you try and hold onto your crown and compete for the title again next year?

BD: Maybe if I got a real crown? Haha! Not to sound ungrateful for an awesome trophy! I did find a new inspiration and theme that I said if I did the competition again I would use but I might just wait a see. That’s a lot of pressure.

GM: What’s your favourite coffee from the Zarraffa’s menu and why?

BD: I actually like making all the coffees apart from flat whites. They are boring to make. My favourites would have to be the drinks I make for my regular customers

Brooke shares her winning recipe with us.

Maple Espresso with Peanut Butter Pouring CreamWinning Coffee

Single shot of espresso (Guatemalan bean)

1 teaspoon of Canadian maple syrup

2 teaspoons of peanut butter pouring cream (recipe below)

Mix 1 tablespoon of peanut butter in 200ml of cream.

Brooke’s tip: “I used a natural peanut butter as it stirs in better and added a bit of salt to balance the flavour. If you like a bit a texture you can use a crunchy peanut butter.”