It only took four months working as a barista for mathematics senior Jessica Ontiveros to be declared the best in the world.
On Aug. 4, the 22-year-old competed in the 2010 Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf World Barista Competition in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. After competing against fellow Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Company baristas from around the world, Ontiveros was declared the winner for her signature drink, the cosmoccino.
The cosmoccino is a raspberry-infused drink that, unlike any other coffee beverage, is pink. The ingredients consist of espresso and milk steamed with raspberry sugar, which was discovered while Ontiveros was practicing for the competition.
“I went to the backroom (of Coffee Bean) and saw the raspberry sugar and wondered if it would dissolve. I mixed it, and it turned pink right away. I poured in into a cup, and it was the most amazing thing ever,” Ontiveros said.
After creating the drink, the only thing missing was a name. So Ontiveros took a picture of the concoction on her cellphone and sent it to her manager, who told Ontiveros it reminded her of the popular HBO series, “Sex and the City.” The women on the television show regularly drink pink-colored alcoholic beverages called Cosmopolitans, so her manager altered the name to be more coffee-suitable.
Going along with the theme, the drink was put in a martini glass with lemon curls while Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” played in the background.
“It was really scary presenting the drink to the judges, but then again, I worked really hard (to get there). I presented it to them and said, ‘This is my pink drink in a martini glass.’ I added the lemon curls on every glass because it brought a bright crisp taste to the drink,” Ontiveros said.
Not only did the drink capture the attention of the judges but so did her creative theme and delivery.
“It’s a simple drink, but I think her win was based on performance. She was really outgoing, spunky and had a good presentation (with the martini glasses),” Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf employee Tricia Harris said.
Ontiveros’ positive energy stemmed from the realization that she would have fun whether she won or lost.
“What do I have to lose? I’m just going to have fun,” Ontiveros said. “I’ve trained for so long, and I put all my time and energy into this. The worst that could happen is losing, and it’s totally okay; it wasn’t meant to be then.”
But it was meant to be. The unique appearance of the cosmoccino was a show-stealer, as “everyone flashed towards the judges’ table” to get a look or taste of the pink beverage, Ontiveros said. The drink she created built up a reputation and had captured the attention of many customers at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.
“She put a lot of thought into it. We haven’t gotten one person that doesn’t like (the cosmoccino), and a lot of customers have asked if it’s going on the menu,” Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf employee Chase Bedard said.
However, because the raspberry sugar is a holiday specialty, customers might have to wait a little bit longer.
“We’d really like to serve it (because) it’s a really good blend of traditional espresso and raspberry. But we’re not actively carrying the product, so we don’t sell it,” employee Jeffrey Kosmala said.
Nevertheless, Ontiveros does not want to keep it away from the customers for too long. She is planning a “Coffee Night Out” to be held during the month of October featuring the cosmoccino where customers can bring their own martini glasses and experience the drink that won the world title.
Ontiveros’ success has inspired her to practice for a public coffee competition that is open to any coffee barista from any company. After her win, she said she feels like she can really compete.
“I had a really good experience. I sincerely learned so much, and I definitely took a lot away from the competition,” Ontiveros said. “It helped me be a better barista, and I hope I inspire more people to compete next year.”