A cappuccino Justin Metcalf drank more than 20 years ago at The University Cafe in Melbourne spurred him to become a barista.
The World Barista Championships judge recalls: "This particular cup was so good. It was the texture of the milk and all sorts of other things that made it so pleasurable to drink."
Surprisingly, that life-changing cup was his first taste of coffee - at age 26.
"It was a completely different era at that time. Drinking coffee was not a normal thing to do in Australian culture but it was for the Italian culture," says the 48-year-old, who runs a coffee and cafe consultancy business.
He used to work in hospitality and got his first barista job at franchise cafe Muffin Break in Melbourne when he was 26. He began his barista judging career in 2000 and first represented Australia in Oslo, Norway, at the 2002 World Barista Championship.
The annual competition, which attracts competitors from more than 50 countries, is managed by World Coffee Events, an event management organisation registered in Ireland, and founded by the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe and the Specialty Coffee Association of America.
In 2005, Metcalf was the first Australian to become head judge of the World Barista Championship in Seattle in the United States. He was head judge again in Berne, Switzerland, the following year.
He has judged in places such as New Zealand, Mexico, Japan, South Korea and Europe. He has also been an international judge at the annual Singapore National Barista Championships eight times since 2002. He was here last month for a meeting with the Asean Coffee Association.
He launched his own brand of single- serve coffee capsules under his name at the Cafe Asia 2014 exhibition held at Marina Bay Sands in March. The capsules, which come in four flavours, are sold here at FairPrice Finest stores and by local online grocer RedMart.
The capsules are distributed by Coles Supermarket in Australia and are supplied to 1,000 stores there nationally.
On whether he thinks he is selling out, Metcalf says that is precisely his intention as people's perception of supermarket coffee is generally poor.
"If you want to change that perception, someone has to step in. I want to get people to understand that the quality of coffee in supermarkets can be high and putting my face and name to a brand has succeeded in this."
1 What do you love most about roasting coffee beans?
I love the sensory experience and the control of bringing out different flavours in the coffee. When I first started roasting coffee beans with a very small 15kg roaster, it was so hands-on and you could smell, taste, touch and visualise everything. When you extract it and put it into a cup, it feels good knowing that it is something you have made yourself.
2 How do you pull a perfect shot?
You need to have everything working in conjunction. Coffee is such an organic, living and breathing product that it is hard to get it right every time.
You have to make sure that the grinder is clean and the coffee you are putting in the grinder's hopper is of high quality. The grinder setting as well as the temperature in the machine must be correct.
The cup has to be warm, your milk temperature has to be right, your technique of getting the coffee into the group handle has to be the best it possibly can - there are so many variables that go into making the perfect coffee.
3 Do you think latte art is important?
No. It's great to have that skill but the reality of making great coffee is the coffee itself. So no matter how good your latte art is, if your foundation of coffee isn't good, it's not going to taste better if it looks better.
4 What is the most common mistake people make when making espresso at home?
Probably one of the most common mistakes is that they buy pre-ground coffee in a bag instead of buying their own grinder to make their own coffee. If you want to replicate cafe-style coffee, you need to buy a grinder.
5 What do you look out for when you judge a barista competition?
I look out for the barista's personality, passion, communication skills, the quality of coffee that he makes and how well his routine and performance all work together in harmony. His hygiene and the way he keeps his work station clean during his performance are also all part of getting high scores.
6 What do you think of the coffee scene in Singapore and how does it measure up to that of Australia?
When I first came to Singapore in 2004, there was a non-existent coffee scene.
Over the last 10 years, many people have made a huge impact on the coffee scene here, from Keith Loh (winner of the 2010 Singapore National Barista Championship) to John Ting (winner of the 2008 and 2009 Singapore National Barista Championship) to Ryan Tan (winner of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Singapore National Barista Championship).
The Singapore Coffee Association has a lot to do with getting so many young people involved and driving a third wave of coffee here.
The coffee scene in Melbourne is not too different from that of Singapore in terms of quality, but there are more cafes.
7 What is your favourite coffee in the world?
A single shot of Ethiopian espresso.
8 How would you like to be remembered?
I hope to be remembered for my passion for coffee and how hard I have worked to improve the quality and consistency of speciality coffee, not only throughout Australia but also worldwide.