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Sat 27 Sep 2008 04:00 AM

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Costa’s coffee connoisseurs

Costa Coffee's regional maketing manager for the Middle East and North Africa, Anita Cox, explains what it takes to be the company's barista of the year.

Costa Coffee's regional maketing manager for the Middle East and North Africa, Anita Cox, explains what it takes to be the company's barista of the year.

How long has the competition been running?

This is the competition's third year. The first year, it was restricted to the UK only, and the last two years it has been opened up to international markets including the Middle East, India, Europe, China and Russia.

We wanted a barista who could deliver an unbeatable coffee experience.

Why was the contest set-up?

The competition was set up for three main reasons - to celebrate our passion for coffee; to instill a sense of healthy competition among our barista community, and to ensure our coffee standards remain high across the board.

Who is eligible to take part?

The competition is open to all baristas in all parts of the Costa business, including store and assistant managers. Also, every store could nominate a barista.

We had 11 entries from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Thirty baristas from around the world will compete in the global stage of the competition.

We wanted a barista who could deliver an unbeatable coffee experience. Someone who made great coffee, had completed the Barista Training Workbook, had proven achievement in the Costa Check Coffee Excellence section and showed a passion for coffee.

What are the most important characteristics in a barista?

It's not an easy job because a barista has to be competent in serving the core drinks at speed - within 90 seconds in the espresso category - and delivering multiple drinks in minutes.

It is also imperative to be confident when dealing with customers and colleagues and deliver service with a smile.

How was the contest judged?

The panel consisted of three judges - an area manager, an accredited barista maestro, and an industry professional.

Contestants had to complete practical and theoretical rounds consisting of questions covering everything from drink recipes and presentation to machinery knowledge and speed of delivery.

How were the winners rewarded?

This year's winner was Carlos Martinez. He will be going on to represent the Middle East in the international finals in London. The Champion of Champions winner will get a one-week holiday for two, including spending money.

Why is it important to hold this type of contest?

These competitions are important mostly because they uphold coffee standards globally. This is particularly important for us, because unlike our competitors, our coffee is handmade - meaning constant training and practice is the key to the perfect cup.

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