Stefanos Domatiotis is one of high-end coffee’s most recognizable figures, at least within the industry. The six-time winner of the Greek Barista Championship and three-time finalist of the World Barista Championship, he is on the cover of this month’s Barista Magazine. And until recently, he was the marquee draw at Taf Coffee in Athens.
But now he is in New York, pulling shots on a shiny new Strada set up at the polished stone counter in the front of STIX Mediterranean Grill, a casual but sleek new Greek restaurant on East 23rd Street, just a short walk from Madison Square Park.
“You have so many opportunities here,” said Mr. Domatiotis, 32, explaining why he left Athens to work in New York. “I like to learn. I like a challenge.”
With his dark features and neatly trimmed beard, he looks as if he should be on a frieze, or a beach; given his résumé, he should be on a stage with a wireless mic. Instead, he is preparing espresso drinks with a blend he has custom-roasted at Brooklyn’s Stone Street Coffee Company.
Stathis Antonakopoulos, the owner of STIX, said he brought Mr. Domatiotis to serve as barista because he wanted to set up a serious coffee bar in his restaurant. He credits a visit to Everyman Espresso in 2009. “I had no idea it could be like that,” he said of the coffee he was served. “I was ruined for life.” Mr. Antonakopoulos, 35, is an Athens native who moved to New York to attend college. The restaurant, whose name is a play off “sticks,” as in skewers, feels as if it could be in a Greek harbor, the room equal parts cafe and lounge. The coffee menu is fairly straightforward: espresso, macchiato, flat white, Irish coffee. (The bar also has more spirited offerings.) The most Hellenic item is the freddo cappuccino, Mr. Domatiotis’s take on the café frappé. For anybody who has spent time in Greece, a café frappé is one of the flavors of summer, instant coffee and milk whipped together in a milkshake machine until foamy. It’s usually served in a tall glass filled with ice — you can get it straight, or blended with so much sugar it tastes like a dessert.
The freddo cappuccino has more structure. First, Mr. Domatiotis pours a shot of espresso over ice, whips it slightly with the milkshake machine, then tops it is with skim milk already frothed by the machine so that it has the thick, silky texture of egg whites beaten to soft peaks. Mr. Domatiotis doesn’t add sugar to the drink — he feels the milk is sweet enough.
The secret to the drink? The milkshake machine, which Mr. Antonakopoulos imported from the Greek manufacturer Johny. “It goes faster than the ones in America,” Mr. Domatiotis explained.
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