Kroger Starbucks boasts barista champ

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John Davis, a Starbucks employee at Kroger in Carmel, won a regional barista competition. (Submitted photo)

John Davis, a Starbucks employee at Kroger in Carmel, won a regional barista competition. (Submitted photo)

By Mark Ambrogi

John Davis has proved to be a quick study.

Davis, a 44-year-old Kroger employee and Fishers resident, had worked as a barista at the Starbucks in the Kroger store, 1217 S. Range Line Rd. in Carmel, for just more than one year. Davis was nominated by the Starbucks district manager to be a representative in the District United States Barista Championship for licensed Starbucks stores. He won the competition for Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia in May at Marian University in Indianapolis. Davis competed in the regional competition at York, Pa., on July 16, but failed to advance to the national competition.

“Due to not wanting feelings to get hurt, they didn’t actually place us,” Davis said. “All they told us was the winner. It was very fun and exciting.”

Davis is happy to be champion of three states. That contest began with a barista craft where he had to make whatever the judges told him correctly.

“I need to engage the judge on the other side and talk about what a good espresso shot is and what a good quality drink should look like,” he said. “The second heat is a personal tasting. I get to choose what kind of coffee I would like to bring to the judge and what food I would pair with it. We have a coffee that goes really well with fresh blackberries. It’s not in our manual that it’s the best pairing, but I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from customers and from Starbucks that it is innovative.”

Davis said Kroger and Starbucks focus on creating relationships with the customers.

Davis worked at a tax consulting firm and then was a stay-at-home dad for a few years.

“Then this opened up with my youngest went to first grade and I thought this looked like fun,” Davis said.

Karen Hansen, his Kroger store manager, said it’s evident he enjoys his work.

“We’re so proud of John. It’s no surprise to me that he won the championship,” Hansen said. “He’s totally engaged in the product he sells. He loves the customers. We feel fortunate to have him on our team.”

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