MASTER coffee taster and barista Donovan McLagan has made a name for himself in the world of brewing and starring in a national television advert has been the cherry on top.
The owner of Urban Express Coffee Cafe in Walmer, is the 2012 National Cup Tasters Champion and came fifth at the World Barista Championships in Vienna in June.
His achievements caught the eye of Checkers who commissioned him to search the world’s top coffee-growing countries to find the best beans for their new range – Foreign Ground.
McLagan’s expertise came in handy when selecting the 10 different coffees from South America and Africa.
Checkers then roped him in to star in the advert promoting their new range of international coffees.
“It was very interesting and I enjoyed the experience,” said the 36-year-old father of two.
McLagan said he did not travel to the various countries as the beans were brought into South Africa.
“It was a journey by senses,” said McLagan.
“But I do want to travel to as many places as I can to taste their coffee,” he added.
His favourite blends in the range are from Rwanda and Ethiopia, but in general he does not have a favourite.
McLagan, a former Victoria Park High School pupil, worked in the engineering industry before he fell in love with the art of coffee making.
In 2005 he took a trip to New Zealand and discovered that they had “amazing coffee” which inspired him to get into the business on his return.
His career in coffee included selling, supplying, machine repair and working in various coffee cafes.
In August McLagan opened his own cafe.
“The shop exists to educate people about coffee and to serve the best cup of coffee we can,” he said.
Brewing a good cup is quite an art, says McLagan. It is all about getting the most out of the specific bean. This challenge is his motivation.
“It is the endless pursuit of the perfect cup. There is so much to learn and there are some many different directions that you can take.”
Being a cup taster is no easy task either, as it involves quality control, looking for defects and differences in the roast.
McLagan’s wife, Angeline, is no stranger to the business. She is the national barista championship coordinator and works for Ciro.