WEB.COM TOUR INSIDER
Max Rottluff, a barista and a professional golfer
Germany native spends time behind the bar at a favorite coffee shop in adopted hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona
March 06, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Max Rottluff has spent time with world-renowned latte artist Dritan Alsela, learning how to roast beans and properly work an espresso machine. (Courtesy of Max Rottluff)
Do you know how to make a proper Americano? A cappuccino? What about the ratio of espresso to milk in a cortado?
Max Rottluff does.
And on off-weeks from the Web.com Tour, you might find him slinging drinks behind the bar at Regroup Coffee + Bicycles, his favorite spot in Scottsdale, Arizona – yes, to paying customers.
“I’m always joking that I should get some of the tip money now, too,” says Rottluff with a laugh.
2019 marks the second year on the Web.com Tour for the 26-year-old from Dusseldorf, Germany, but it’s also the ninth year for Rottluff’s obsession with coffee.
His first cup came during his freshman year at Arizona State University, and it has evolved from something that was just interesting to, nowadays, a full-time hobby.
Rottluff, Curtis Luck, and Hank Lebioda started a coffee club in 2018 on the Web.com Tour, where the trio visited shops in cities across America (Honeybee Coffee in Knoxville, Tennessee was the first meeting spot, and highlights included Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland and Reverie Coffee Roasters in Wichita, Kansas). The group even has its own logo.The logo for Max Rottluff, Hank Lebioda and Curtis Luck's coffee club, Scis Quod Scis. (Courtesy of Hank Lebioda)
One evening, though, Rottluff realized that for as much as he enjoyed drinking it, he had no idea what really went into making it.
Instead of firing up Netflix, he went down a rabbit hole of research. He educated himself on the process of sourcing beans, roasting, farming, and brewing, before moving on to latte art. One of the top latte artists in the world, Dritan Alsela, happened to be from Rottluff’s hometown in Germany.
“I got to Dusseldorf and I went straight to the coffee shop,” recalls Rottluff, who tracked down Alsela’s spot after the Web.com Tour Championship last year, on a return trip home.
“The coffee was amazing … The banana bread, it was incredible. I went home to tell my parents how much I enjoyed it, and the next day I went with my parents. I had to show them.”
Rottluff ended up introducing himself to Alsela and admitted he was a big fan of his work. Alsela had a coffee school in Dusseldorf, so he invited Rottluff to come by. They talked sports – Alsela is a huge soccer fan – and Rottluff says he hung out at the school for four hours learning how to roast beans and properly work an espresso machine (which he bought for his apartment in Scottsdale).
Alsela told Rottluff the key to good latte art is the steaming of the milk, which is the hardest part to get right, so Rottluff spent most of the following weeks in Germany practicing his pouring.
Rottluff met back up with Alsela in Los Angeles this winter at a coffee festival, and the master brought the student on stage for part of a demonstration.
“I was proud to show off my new skills,” says Rottluff, who got to work for nearly an hour at Alsela’s spot – Dritan Alsela Coffee.Max Rottluff's espresso machine at home in Scottsdale, Arizona. Pictured at bottom is one of his newest creations. (Courtesy of Max Rottluff)
Lebioda says he hasn’t yet had a drink made by Rottluff, but is impressed by his friend’s efforts behind the bar.
“He sent me a Snapchat of one of the lattes he made, and it was legit,” admits Lebioda, saying Rottluff could pass for a barista at the coffee shops the trio frequented.
Lebioda says it was originally he and Luck’s idea to meet – both have moved on to the PGA TOUR now and, laughing, says Rottluff isn’t too happy about that, but that Rottluff is probably OK to visit coffee shops his own way now – and they invited Rottluff along as well.
Whenever the trio was done practicing on either Tuesday or Wednesday, they’d have coffee together.
“We didn’t invite anyone else; we had a good time on our own,” says Lebioda with a laugh. “Max made the group-chat name; he started coming up with logos for us. He was all-in on this coffee club thing, and it took only about three months for this happen.”
Through the start of 2019, Rottluff says he’s had to take a few weeks off from making lattes at home, since he’s been traveling so much for the start of the Web.com Tour season.
But he says he got back to Arizona and was pleasantly surprised at where his skills were at. Not unlike taking a little time away from golf, he was re-motivated to get back at it.
“I’ve been very happy with my art level. It’s kind of funny how that works,” he says. “Time away from the game and it comes right back.”
So if you’re ever in Scottsdale (or Dusseldorf), head to a coffee shop. A Web.com Tour member might be behind the bar making a cappuccino (one-third espresso, two-thirds milk), an Americano (just hot water and espresso), or his favorite, a cortado (a short drink with equal parts milk and espresso).
And after a day at the shop, it’s likely Rottluff will be back home, coffee in hand.
“When I’m home, my favorite spot is to sit on my balcony with a cappuccino or Americano,” he says. “Whatever I feel, I’ll make.”
If only golf were that easy.