AS Ballarat's best baristas wait to see who will take out our coffee crown, The Courier got the lowdown from The Bean Barn's Barry Gehan on just how to make the perfect cuppa.
Although only young, Barry has perfected his craft from doing courses and by watching other baristas at work.
He also has a few unbreakable rules.
"Firstly, your work area needs to be neat and tidy," Barry said.
"If it isn't, it will affect the flavour of the coffee.
"And only grind coffee on demand. It can go stale within two minutes."
Barry then gets down to business, grinding The Bean Barn's own bean variety, before using a subtle hand technique called the Stockfleth move to smoothly distribute the grounded coffee in the plunger, leaving a five millimetre gap all the way around.
The grounded beans are then placed in the La Marzocco Linea coffee machine, which magically converts them to liquid form.
While the machine pours the coffee into a cup, Barry starts "texturing" the milk, which involves heating it at 60 to 65 degrees using a wand that also aerates it and turns it into microfoam.
"The milk must look like silk and pour like paint."
It is then either poured straight into the coffee, for cappuccinos, or decanted slightly to make it thinner for lattes.
The wand is also immediately purged to get rid of any residual milk.
Then comes the tricky part. Using just a series of subtle hand movements, Barry creates those cute little patterns on top of the coffee, usually rosettas or love hearts. He openly admits he has yet to master tricky tulips.
"You should place it three quarters along the shot. Ideally you are aiming for symmetry."
Add a little dainty shortbread and the perfect cup of coffee is complete.
Oh, and Barry also let us into one more little secret to his success but, in the interests of a fair competition, we'll keep that tidbit to ourselves!