From barely knowing how to make coffee while living in his native Philippines to raising smiles across the newsroom with his delightful cappuccino designs, Jerrel Cruz has come a long way.
One of The National's own tea and coffee servers, Cruz has become known throughout the office for his brilliant artistry.
Whether he is creating drinks with flower motifs, special seasonal designs – such as a snowman or a National Day UAE flag – or a more personalised cappuccino with your name on it, there’s always something to amaze.
Before coming to the UAE, Cruz was a waiter at a restaurant in Manila. He started working at Abu Dhabi Media in July last year, after he was hired by Spinneys Catering Services.
They taught him how to create simple, basic coffee designs, such as flowers, but he wanted to take it to another level – so he set about teaching himself how to incorporate evermore complex artworks into his drinks.
Using Google and YouTube for inspiration, his many cups have featured the Facebook logo, holiday-themed designs and even special messages that range from “Good Morning” to – one of my personal favourites – “Bon Voyage Ms Evelyn” before I set off on holiday.
Cruz explained that each design – and the drink it decorates – only takes about three to four minutes to make. Because the drinks are hot and sometimes foamy, there can be pressure in getting a design finished quickly. If he took too long, the drink would cool down or the design could melt into the foam.
His favourite designs are cats and cartoons. While he likes to incorporate colours into his drinks, he also realises that some people don’t enjoy it as much, especially if the colouring stains their lips or teeth.
“It’s beautiful to see with colour, but some clients don’t like to drink it,” he says.
Despite having his favourites, he is happy to take requests. If someone wants a specific design, he will do his best to accommodate.
For Cruz, the change to a new job in a new country – with a newfound talent – has paid off.
“I like it here,” he says. “The people are good.”