Best of brewers under spotlight at second-annual LCA Barista Championship

Wednesday, 5 June 2024 00:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Winners of the regional rounds will go into the finals to be held at the Sri Lanka Coffee Festival on 6 June at Jetwing Lighthouse, Galle

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

Regional competitions were held in Dambulla, Galle and Colombo in May, and the winners of the regional rounds will go into the finals to be held at the Sri Lanka Coffee Festival on 6 June at Jetwing Lighthouse, Galle.

The Sri Lankan specialty coffee sector has been growing 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 its success, in 2023 the LCA together with MDF and Jetwing Hotels hosted the second Sri Lanka Coffee Festival, along with the first LCA Barista Championship. The LCA will once again host the festival this year in partnership with MDF and Jetwing Hotels. 

In the lead-up to the festival, three regional rounds of the LCA Barista Championship were held across Sri Lanka. 

The first round which was held at Jetwing Lake, Dambulla, on 17 May, had 17 registered participants competitively showcasing their coffee brewing skills. The champion was Ruksha Tharushi, representing Buono Café, Kandy. 

Ishani Hettiarchchi, also from Buono Cafe, and Kavithra Nirmal Fernando from Jetwing Lake came in as first and second runners-up, respectively. The second regional event was held at Jetwing Lighthouse, Galle, on 22 May with 27 participants. Johann Paiva from Lost Planet emerged winner, with Asitha Fernando from Samba and Primali Perera from Wild & the Sage as first and second runners-up. The final regional championship took place at Jetwing Colombo 7 on 27 May with 21 participants. Sgeno Millan from Seed Café won the round, while Suraj Nipunasiri from Butter Boutique and Thareen De Silva came in as the first runner-up and second runner-up. The finals will take place at the Sri Lanka Coffee Festival. 

Lanka Coffee Association Chairperson Kushan Samararatne said: “The LCA was established with the intention of bringing together a variety of stakeholders in the coffee industry to fulfil the single goal of developing the specialty coffee sector in Sri Lanka, and we are thrilled to announce the quality of our coffee to the world. The LCA Barista Championship has been a great success in this regard in both providing an opportunity for the baristas in the country to showcase their talents while promoting Sri Lankan coffee.” 

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

Jetwing Hotels Managing Director Dmitri Cooray said: “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the Lanka Coffee Association and MDF for the second year on this project to revive the coffee culture in Sri Lanka. There is tremendous potential in our country for exceptional coffee, from cultivating top-quality beans to mastering the art of roasting, all contributing to the creation of a truly world-class cup. I am confident we will be able to position our coffee globally while providing an opportunity for the young talent in Sri-Lanka”.

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

MDF Sri Lanka Country Director Maryam Piracha said: “MDF’s efforts in the specialty coffee industry are making significant progress, drawing in fresh investments, creating new linkages and establishing connections with global markets. The LCA Barista Championship presents an excellent opportunity to enhance the sector’s potential and elevate Sri Lankan coffee on the international stage. We are thrilled to witness the impressive skills and dedication of Sri Lankan baristas, who are crucial to driving this momentum forward.”