LONDON, UK – Brian Chibwe has been crowned Costa Coffee’s Barista of the Year 2019 in their annual Champion of Champions competition. The 22-year-old, who has been working for Costa Coffee in the UAE for two and a half years took the top spot, closely followed by UK barista, Ruggero Barlaba, from Guildford. Third place went to Nestor L. Allado JR., also from the UAE.
The prestigious competition saw 12 of Costa Coffee’s best baristas battle it out to win first place as Costa Coffee’s Champion of Champions. With over 30,000 baristas working globally for the brand, the final 12 battled it over a six-month event to secure a place at the final showdown in London.
Being a barista is both a challenge and rewarding career that requires a diverse set of skills. Now in its thirteenth year, the illustrious Barista of the Year competition offers Costa Coffee baristas a platform to showcase their knowledge, expertise and talent. Whether it’s producing handcrafted drinks like Costa Coffee’s signature Flat White or being able to deliver one of up to 600 drink combinations at a moment’s notice.
The final, which took place at the world famous Troxy Theatre in London on Thursday 18th July, was judged by an esteemed panel of judges including Bake Off star Selasi Gbormittah, Costa Coffee’s Master of Coffee Gennaro Pelliccia and Deb Caldow, Global Head of Coffee Innovation.
When asked about his role as a judge, Selasi, said “I know a thing or two about perfecting your craft under pressure and I have been blown away by the talent seen at this year’s Costa Coffee Barista of the Year Awards. When you’re competing at an event like this you have to focus on not being put off by the competition while trying to perfect and deliver an item that is both beautiful to look at and tastes great. Brian is a well-deserved winner who demonstrated the perfection, art and craft that goes into a premium tasting coffee and I can’t wait to see what he does in the future!”
Brian won over the judges with his incredible skill, flair and knowledge, taking home the coveted Barista of the Year trophy as a result. Originally from Zimbabwe, Brian was inspired by his desire to share his culture and appreciation for the local coffee growing communities to create a very special signature drink, called the Afro-Tango, which wowed the panel of experts.
Having already battled it out against hundreds of other contestants over several rounds to reach the global finals, Brian then took part in a series of challenges over two days – designed to find the best barista the world has to offer. Challenges included technical challenges and an espresso race, where baristas were tasked with making as many espressos as possible in under two minutes while still retaining a premium quality. The 12 finalists were also required to showcase their creativity by inventing and preparing their own ‘signature drink’ while maintaining Costa Coffee’s standard for the premium quality that goes into every handcrafted drink.
Speaking about his win, Brian said: “It has been an intense journey, but I’m absolutely overjoyed to be crowned Costa Coffee’s Barista of the Year 2019. When you enter competitions like this you realise being a barista isn’t just a job but can be a career. With competitors jetting in from as far as Asia, the talent and standards have been high, but I’m delighted the judges have chosen me as the best in the business!”
The UK took a close second place with Guildford’s Ruggero Barlaba impressing on his technical ability and skills in handcrafting a perfect drink. Ruggero’s Speciality Drink, Morning Sunshine, was inspired by his childhood memories of sipping orange juice mixed with coffee in his childhood home of Bermuda where he was raised by Italian parents.