Grand Barista Championship brews innovation and industry leadership

Friday, 23 January 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Internal competition recognise top talent within the 12 outlets island wide

A perfect cup of coffee can change everything. It can make a bad day seem better, help unwind after a hard day at work and simply lift your spirits. Barista Lavazza specialises in exactly this – the perfect cup of coffee – with enough flavours and variations to please even the most discerning palate. The pinnacle of recognition for this incredible skill is the Grand Barista Championship or GBC. This competition brings together employees from all of the chain’s 12 outlets to battle it out to crown the brand’s number one barista. GBC 2014 Champion D.M.D. Sampath receiving the Championship Trophy from Barista Coffee Lanka Chairman Ajit Dias   Conducted in Sri Lanka for the second consecutive year, the GBC adheres to the rules and regulations set forth by the World Barista Championship, pitting the Sri Lankan baristas with standards expected internationally – and they were not found wanting. The semi final round held at the Barista Lavazza outlet at the World Trade Centre saw 18 of the 60-plus strong Barista team from outlets all over the country compete for top honours. The top six baristas from this round then moved on to the final round held at ON14 at OZO Colombo, the Venue Partner for the competition. Speaking on the success of the competition, Barista Lavazza CEO Thilina Amarasinghe explaining the process of selecting a winner from the top six said, “The final round combined crucial aspects of the successful delivery of a great experience to customers on a day-to-day basis – speed and delivery of excellence. Each competitor was required to produce an espresso, a cappuccino and a signature beverage of their choice within a 15 minute window. A panel of judges comprising of three top F&B experts from leading hotels in Sri Lanka then evaluated their products, basing their decision on technique, presentation, creativity and taste. Team including participants, management, directors and judges   “The GBC was conceptualised in order to give our baristas the opportunity to showcase their talents and we are delighted that they excelled, impressing the panel of judges, ensuring that that the GBC was a resounding success this year as well.” The overall winner of the 2014 Grand Barista Championship was D.M.D. Sampath, a young barista from the city of Badulla, currently working out of the Barista Gandhara (Colombo 6) outlet. Sampath joined Barista over a year ago as a Junior Brew Master, with absolutely no prior experience with coffee. Under the watchful eye of his Coach and Manager Damith Dalawella and with the support and encouragement of the Training Department and the Operations Team of Barista Lavazza, Sampath excelled, growing from strength to strength to become one of Barista’s outstanding success stories. For his signature beverage in the final round of the Grand Barista Championship, Sampath prepared a ‘Sweet Cardamom Whisper’, which brought together tantalising Sri Lankan spices such as cardamom and clove, with premium quality Italia coffee to create a tantalising blend of his own creation. The blend was up to such a high standard in fact, that it will be made available at the Barista Gandhara outlet and added onto the regular menu. As winner of the 2014 Grand Barista Championship, Sampath will be flown to Bangalore, India, where he will enjoy an all expenses paid holiday and receive the coveted chance to visit the Lavazza Training Centre for further training. Commenting on the training aspects of the Barista team, Training and Development Manager Tharanga Perera explained in more detail the scope of the training that goes into producing international quality baristas. “Our team members come from different backgrounds, but have two things in common – passion and dedication to continuous improvement. Our training programs are designed to hone their skills to ensure service and quality standards that are on par with the brand’s international reputation. This in turn ensures that a customer will receive the same consistent quality throughout all 12 of our outlets. “At its core, the Grand Barista Championship serves as more than just a competition; it instils confidence, motivates and builds rapport as a team, as they collaborate to gather knowledge and prepare for the competition.” The winner of the GBC, Sampath, commenting on his victory spoke of his journey from novice to expert barista, “Although I have only been a part of the Barista team for a little over a year, I have received every possible assistance from our Training Department, operations team, my manager and each member of the Barista team. The experience has pushed me to not only work harder at my job, but also to expand my knowledge on coffee and the industry. I am also determined to make the most of my visit to Bangalore and learn as much as I can to implement locally and enhance our expertise. I am very proud of my win and am delighted that my beverage will be added to the menu.” Barista Lavazza is the first international coffee chain to set up in Sri Lanka. Having launched their first outlet in Colombo in September 2002, the chain now operates 12 espresso bars across the island and has a host of initiatives planned for the near future. Over the past few years the chain’s growing numbers of patrons have helped make it the most popular international coffee chain in Sri Lanka.