Champin’ At The Bit: Stefanos Domatiotis Of Greece

Last week Sprudge.com attended the Soyuz Coffee Roasters pop-up cafe in Red Square, staffed by 7 National Champion baristas from around the world. This week we’ll be profiling each of them, starting with Stefanos Domatiotis, Barista Champion of Greece.

Pronounciation Guide for future WBC announcers: Stefanos Domatiotis = Steh-FAH-knows Doe-MAH-chee-AH-toes.

There may be no more personable and charming barista on the planet Earth than Stefanos Domatiotis, 5-time reigning Greek Barista Champion and Athenian coffee superstar. Stefanos is, quite simply, the face of specialty coffee in Greece – and the brains – but most importantly, the heart. Add that to the tremendous amount of experience he’s amassed as a competitor and working barista, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better representative of a national coffee identity.

Stefanos is deeply involved with Taf, an Athens-based cafe / roaster / wholesale and retail coffee purveyor - it’s whom he represents in competition and where he works in Athens, both as a barista and a kind of operations manager, importer and do-it-all hands-on utility player. Talking to Stefanos about Taf is an exercise in enthusiasm; with one showcase space in Athens and ambitious plans for expansion, it’s the reach of Taf’s wholesale arm that is perhaps the most surprising.

“I have so much customers to give the coffees”, Stefanos told Sprudge. Taf offers more than 26 coffees total, an impressive variety to choose from, and they boast more than a 1000 wholesale customers across the country. To put that in perspective, those numbers put Taf in the ballpark of Intelligentsia or Counter Culture Coffee in terms of wholesale presence. (Though it should be noted, the North American cafes supplied by these roasters are doing much higher volume per week.) Certain Taf coffees inspire die-hard allegience: one gourmet restaurant in Athens has been purchasing exclusively Esmeralda coffees from Taf for more than 4 years.

Cafe Taf’s showcase space offers V60, Chemex, Hario siphon, and the ever-popular Mokka Pot, and baristas perform pour-over service tableside. In a “we’ve-never-heard-of-this-before” twist, customers at Taf can choose to handle pour-over duties themselves at their tables. America’s uptight insurance norms and liability qualms mean you shouldn’t expect to see this option stateside any time soon.

It’s perhaps not fair to ask of Stefanos, “How has your life changed since winning last year’s championship?”, since victory in Greece has become something of a routine for him. Rest assured, he plans to compete again in 2012, with an eye towards finally bringing home a World Barista Championship for his native and beloved Greece. As for the plans Stefanos has for Taf, they’re looking to open one more showcase cafe in Athens for sure, and are also currently scouting locations abroad for the first Cafe Taf overseas. Stefanos mentioned London and Vancouver, BC as the top possibilities, but wherever they go, you can be sure Stefanos will be there with a crew of Greek baristas, working from behind the bar.

“I am barista”, Steafnos said, “I will be there behind my bar. The people, they like to talk to me!” Trust us, it’s a hard point to argue.

 

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