LONDON – A UAE barista was named the best Costa barista in the world on Tuesday (21st October) at the international final event in London.
Prakash Rai, aged 25 who has worked at the Dubai International Airport store at Terminal 1 for just over 2 years, beat stiff competition from some of Costa’s most accomplished baristas around the world to be named Barista of the Year 2014 at the Champion of Champions final held at Vinopolis, London. In addition to taking home the coveted trophy he also scoops a 10-day trip for two to a country of his choice with a Costa connection.
The eight finalists were tested on their ability to produce a technically perfect cup of hand-made coffee and their knowledge and understanding of the industry. They were also judged on their overall performance, flair and passion for coffee, and on their creativity by inventing their own signature drink.
Prakash impressed the judges with his creation, the ‘Smoking Panda’ which was infused with ingredients from his childhood in Nepal and finished with a beautiful barista flair and smoking surprise!
The 25 year old barista said of their win:
“I am extremely proud of becoming Barista of the Year 2014 and happy for my team but I think it will take a while to sink in! It’s all I have been thinking about over the past 255 days, not about winning the title necessarily, but about competing in this great event. It was also made extra special because at the regional Middle East final in Dubai I won the speciality drink, and to now come here and win the Champion of Champions title has been the wow factor!”
Head judge Costa’s Master of Coffee Gennaro Pelliccia said of Prakash: “Prakash did a fantastic job against some outstanding competition. He’s just what we look for in our baristas: someone who possesses true Pride, Passion and Personality about their coffee.”
Joining Gennaro on the panel were UK celebrity chef Phil Vickery and esteemed food and drink writer Rose Prince. Vickery said of the competition: “Judging Costa’s Barista of the Year 2014 competition has really opened my eyes to the exceptional skill and dedication displayed by Costa’s baristas. I have been particularly impressed with the barista’s creativity creating and developing their speciality drinks for us today and I now know what goes into a decent cup of coffee and will appreciate it so much more! Prakash simply ticked all the boxes for us: he was personable yet professional, and his skills shone throughout.”
Rose Prince added, “This year’s competition marks my first time as a Barista of the Year judge and I’ve been very impressed by the standard of the finalists competing today for the title. It has been brilliant to see the barista’s personalities take centre stage today and see just how much love they have for what they do. I’d like to wish Prakash and all of the finalists the best of luck in their future careers.”
Prakash Rai joins a list of prestigious Barista of the Year finalists including 2013 winner Tony Huang and 2012 winner Victoria Stewart who inspired and helped develop Costa’s Chocolate & Orange Mocha Latte that successfully launched into stores last year.