One of New Zealand’s top baristas will soon be pouring drinks on Little Gaetz Avenue.
Brendon Neilson is scheduled to join the staff at DOSE Coffee Co. on May 9.
He provided a preview of his skills on Friday at Red Deer College’s Alumni Wine Tasting Festival, where he operated a slow pour-over coffee bar, while DOSE owner Rolland Forsland served up cappuccinos and lattes.
“He’s very, very talented,” said Forsland of his new barista.
“We’re pretty fortunate to have him with us.”
Originally from New Brunswick, Neilson learned the coffee trade in Edmonton while studying theology at Taylor College and Seminary.
“I was always kind of interested in coffee, and became a customer at Transcend (Coffee),” he said, adding that he eventually made the transition from patron to employee.
In 2010, Neilson and his wife Melanie moved to New Zealand so that he could continue his studies there.
Neilson again found work in the café industry and soon after was named the top barista in the Auckland region.
That was no small achievement, considering how serious the people there are about their coffee.
“In New Zealand, there’s really quite a strong café culture,” said Neilson, describing how most prefer high-end espresso-based drinks — in contrast to Canada’s Tim Hortons-dependent population.
The top baristas in the South Pacific country are respected around the world, he added.
Neilson and his wife recently settled in Red Deer, where Melanie now teaches at Gateway Christian School.
Neilson is putting the finishing touches on the dissertation for his doctorate degree, but has found the time to ply his coffee skills at DOSE.
He said he enjoys serving a high-end cup of coffee — and seeing its impact on customers.
“You have this opportunity to be giving people some of the best coffee they’ve ever had.
“It has that potential to be a fine food substance that really can be quite an experience.”
Neilson doesn’t know what the future holds after he’s earned his degree. But he’s sure of one thing.
“I always know that coffee will be part of what I do.”