Barista Spotlight: Dylan McCauley

Tucked away in Milwaukee’s East Side is a neighborhood coffee shop that has instant charm appeal upon entering. With its exposed brick walls, featured local art hung on the walls and a very ideal corner booth– Roast Coffee at 2132 E Locust St. is a contending local coffee shop to be reckoned with. Its interior is far from minimal decor, but offers a sense of comfort with the reclaimed pallet wood that is strategically stacked to adorn a portion of its walls.

Roast on Milwaukee’s East Side. Photo by Emmy Yates.

Roast’s drink menu vary from traditional drinks, non-coffee drinks, and specialty. Not to mention they offer ten different ways to spruce up the classic chai latte. Be sure to try their Chai Charger or Choco Chai if you’re feeling more festive or are merely in the mood to flirt a little whilst ordering your favorite drink. They also offer a variety of actual kitchen-made sandwiches, wraps and breakfast items that are both creative and downright delicious.

Clutching the white mug with his right hand, and the milk pitcher with his right, Dylan McCauley pours the steamed milk over the espresso. “Damn,” he said, pushing the ceramic mug away from himself, “Could be prettier.” While the tulip with rosetta latte art he created is beautiful and easily something that could be an all-or-nothing challenge in the season finale of The Amazing Race, Dylan has a more casual perspective towards the barista culture that he’s been a part of for four years. Though his ability as a latte artist is outstanding, he remains modest and has yet to to become a notorious barista jock.

Dylan devotes less of his energy perfecting latte art, but more towards creating a warm environment that’s rich with authentic conversation and good stories. Ask him to tell you how he recently landed a 180 backwards crook 20 on his BMX bike, or about one of the scars on his knuckles, or even what his latest stick n’ poke tattoo is.

Dylan McCauley at Roast. Photo by Emmy Yates.


What is your idea of a perfect afternoon/ does it involve coffee?

Being outside on my bike riding around with my friends and then stopping at a coffee shop.


What is your go-to morning beverage?

I’m a huge fan of our cold brew. I drink it year-round!


What is your go-to evening beverage?

Simple black coffee.


What does being a latte artist mean to you?

It means a lot, but at the same time I don’t take it too seriously. I like to impress my customers and my friends with tulips and rosettas


How long have you been a barista?

Good question, technically I stared when I was 17. but I was in and out of the coffee world for a couple of years. So, I’d say I have about four years of experience.


How did you learn to master the art of it?

It took some time, some love and some training with the kind people over at Anodyne Coffee and of course Ryan from Roast!


What is your favorite latte art to create?

I love a nice symmetrical tulip, for me simplicity is key.


How do you see your art developing?

I guess just by time and practice.


What is your current state of mind?

Well all I have to say is the universe always provides.


Who is your favorite writer?

I wish I had time to read…


What is currently your favorite album?

ANX by Dark Time Sunshine


You’re familiar with barista competitions. During these events, how do you respond to your competitors? Is it usually high tension?

I’ve only done a couple in my life, but I really only go to have fun. I’m usually very nervous about them because I always think I could make a drink a little bit more beautiful.


How long have you worked at Roast Coffee?

I think its almost been 2.5 years now.


Why did you choose to work here and how is it different than other coffee you’ve worked at? I chose Roast because…well they kinda chose me. Back when my friend Cohl worked here they really needed help. Cohl called me in and basically got me an interview and after that I started working almost right away. Roast is different from another coffee shops in so many ways. For one, there’s all the responsibilities a barista has while they’re working. Like making drinks, cash register, making sandwiches, teas, smoothies, pour overs, doing dishes, and taking care of other random things that are happening at the shop. There’s not one coffee shop I can think of where the barista does all of this by themselves. When you work here you really need to be a hard worker, otherwise you won’t make it.


What is a quality you most like in a customer?

I think a good quality in a customer is when they have respect for their barista.


What is a quality you most dislike in a customer?

When a customer doesn’t treat you like a human being.


Who or what is the greatest love of your life?

Rebecca Lynn Hewitt and bmx.


What do you value most about the coffee business?

I value the genuine customer interactions most.


What do you dislike most about the coffee business?

The customers that are always going to be unhappy.


What is one tip you would pass down to an aspiring latte artist?

Just practice and do your own thing.


If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one beverage (coffee related or not) what would it be? Water, duh.


Enough said.


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