EDITOR'S NOTE: We are visiting local coffee shops to feature unique coffee drinks for Signature Sip.

 

Carleigh Middlemas is a true coffee connoisseur.

In her five years as a barista, she has honed the skill of a defined coffee palate, and that in turn, has helped her serve customers at Black Bear Bread Co. in Grayton Beach.

“I think my perfect cup of coffee would be a Yirgacheffe, a medium-light roast,” she said, describing the single-origin, micro-region coffee of Ethiopia. “But I do love a good cafe au lait, too.”

When asked how she first found her love for coffee, Middlemas said it started out with a cup of tea.

“I lived in France for about a year, and that is where I got really into tea,” she said. “I started drinking tea, and that kind of led me into coffee.”

Now, Middlemas said she would categorize her coffee affair as more of an obsession.

“I think I drink probably five cups a day,” she laughed. “It’s just a cozy drink.”

When it comes to her favorite aspect of working as a barista at Black Bear, Middlemas said it’s a collaboration of things.

“I guess the free coffee, because it’s an addiction,” she laughed. “But, really, working here I have been able to make a lot of connections in the community. I started working in coffee and that kind of brought me to this area.”

Middlemas, who is originally from Panama City, said she is really embracing the South Walton lifestyle now that she has made the leap to Black Bear.

“I just moved out to 30A, so I felt like I had to join the 30A lifestyle,” she said. “I just got a YOLO board and a bicycle, and I’m trying to spend a lot of time outside … and I still drink a lot of tea.”

For her signature sip, Middlemas chose a holiday beverage created by Stumptown Coffee Roasters, the Campfire Latte.

“It kind of tastes like roasted marshmallows. It’s sweet and spicy,” she said. “It’s star anise and cinnamon simple syrup, and then we grind Aleppo (style pepper), which is kind of like cayenne but a little bit more citrusy. It gives it kind of like a crunchy pop in your mouth that kind of resembles a campfire crackle.”

And you can’t visit Black Bear Bread Co. without trying one of their handmade pastries or breads, and Middlemas said she treats herself often to her own style of "Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

“I love a good flaky, buttery croissant,” she said. “With a cup of coffee and a croissant, it’s like the breakfast of champions.”

Black Bear Bread Co. is at 26 Logan Lane in Grayton Beach. For more information, visit www.blackbearbreadco.com or call 850-213-4528.