Talented locals compete in inaugural LCA Barista Championship

Tuesday, 9 May 2023 00:28 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Finale on 19 May during Sri Lanka Coffee Festival in Colombo

The LCA Barista Championship, hosted by the Lanka Coffee Association (LCA) in partnership with Jetwing Hotels and The Market Development Facility (MDF), an Australian Government funded program, provided an opportunity for local baristas to showcase their coffee brewing skills.

The winners of the three regional rounds will go into the finals – to be held at the Sri Lanka Coffee Festival on 19 May.

The Sri Lankan specialty coffee sector has been growing progressively over the past decade. To recognise the comeback of the industry, in 2022, MDF and LCA brought together representatives from the local coffee sector for the first-ever ‘Sri Lanka Coffee Festival.’ Following the success of the event, this year the LCA will host the festival in partnership with MDF and Jetwing Hotels Group on 19 May.

In the lead-up to the festival three regional rounds of the LCA Barista Championship were held across Sri Lanka. The first round was at Jetwing Lake, Dambulla, on 4 April, with 12 participants competitively showcasing their coffee brewing skills. 

The champion was R. Praveen Jawager from Buono Café (Kandy), with P.H. Maneesha from Iora Coffee (Habarana) and R. Vidushan from Buono Café coming in as first and second runners-up, respectively. 

The second regional event was held at Jetwing Lighthouse, Galle, on 6 April, with 23 participants. 

Johann Paiva from Black Honey Café (Ahangama) emerged winner, with Chandu Bhagya from DoubleTree by Hilton (Weerawila) and A.P. Asitha Madushanka from Moochies Café (Weligama) as first and second runners-up. 

The final regional championship took place in Negombo on 26 April at Jetwing Blue hotel with a total of 28 participants. The champion was Uvindu Karunarathna, a medical doctor by profession with a passion for coffee, Sheno Milan from Seed Café (Colombo) coming in as the first runner-up and Suraj Nipunasiri from Butter Boutique (Colombo) as the second runner-up. The final championship will take place at the coffee festival.

Lanka Coffee Association Secretary Kushan Samararatne said: “The LCA was established 2 years ago with the intention of bringing together a variety of stakeholders in the coffee industry to fulfil the single goal of developing the speciality coffee sector in Sri-Lanka.”

“We are thrilled to see the progress that has been made up to this point as an association, and with the LCA Barista Championship 2023 being a success, we are very confident that the momentum will continue until the Coffee Festival. The barista championship has been an eye-opener in terms of the quality of Sri Lanka’s cafes and barista skills,” he added.

The winning barista will receive a cash prize as well as the opportunity to participate in a coveted international certification (‘Barista Skills’) by the Speciality Coffee Association. This certification will upgrade the theoretical and practical knowledge of the winning barista to compete in regional and international barista competitions and become a brand ambassador for Sri Lankan specialty coffee. 

Jetwing Hotels, Symphony PLC and The Lighthouse Hotel PLC Chairman Hiran Cooray added: “We are delighted to partner with Lanka Coffee Association and MDF on this project to revive the coffee culture in Sri Lanka. There is a lot of potential in our country for great coffee, both in terms of producing top quality beans and mastering the art of roasting and making a world-class cup of coffee. I am confident we will be able to position our coffee globally for its quality and brand it as Sri Lankan coffee instead of Ceylon Coffee.”

The global specialty coffee sector is expected to grow to $ 80 billion by 2025. Investments in specialty coffee in Sri Lanka stand to benefit from this positive trend. Events like the LCA Barista Championship give local baristas a platform to showcase their skills and the opportunity to take Sri Lankan coffee to the next level. This year’s coffee festival will continue to celebrate the increased interest in the coffee industry and the unique qualities of Sri Lankan coffee.

“MDF’s work in the specialty coffee sector is gaining traction, with new investments, opportunities and linkages with international markets. This barista championship is a great opportunity to build on the sector’s potential to position Sri Lankan coffee internationally,” said MDF Sri Lanka Country Director Maryam Piracha.

Australia has been a longstanding supporter of Sri Lankan specialty coffee, and MDF’s current investments include partnerships in coffee production, processing and marketing.