THE ART OF a good cup
For Charles D’Souza, it’s not good enough for his coffee to just taste good – each individual cup needs to be a work of art. While the dad of five has won awards for his brews, including the Supreme Regional Barista of the Year in 2017, there’s another reason Charles has developed a dedicated fan base at Wild Bean Cafe Papakura
It all started in 2012, when Charles first began working at Wild Bean Cafe Mt Wellington on the graveyard shift. Alone for hours, he decided to use his time wisely and learn how to make the perfect cup. “I started searching the internet and YouTube, and that’s how I taught myself how to make the art on the coffee – I became the latte artist!” he says.
Six years later, Charles can create more than 100 different pictures on the top of his customers’ coffees, with many travelling far and wide just to take a photo to post on social media. “What I make on top of the coffee depends on the customer, but dogs and cats are very popular,” Charles tells. “My favourite to make is a giraffe – the long neck looks great in the coffee.”
LOOKS GOOD, TASTES GOOD
Of course, Charles knows his coffee can’t just look good – it also has to taste amazing. With that in mind, he puts just as much work into brewing the perfect drop as he does the final flourishes. “Coffee is not just coffee, I really believe that,” he says. “When you wake up in the morning, the first thing on your mind is ‘I want a good cup of coffee’. That coffee will make your day, and when I first started making it, I quickly realised how important that is. It can bring joy, and I love being a part of that.”
KIA ORA, CHARLES
Coffee is a relatively recent passion for Charles – when he arrived in New Zealand from India in 2008, he didn’t even know what a flat white was! “I had no idea,” he laughs. “I didn’t even drink it until I came to New Zealand, and now I love it.”
It’s a love he’s passing on to his kids – William (16), Yohann (12), twins Paul and Serah (8) and Israelle (4) – though everyone but William are still enjoying hot chocolate and chai lattes.
However, while Charles crafts award-winning coffee for hundreds of people a day, he doesn’t make his own – that task still falls to his lovely wife, Rebecca. “I don’t know what she does to it, but she’s the best barista for me in the whole world.”