Excitement as winners emerge in maiden Barista Competition

Excitement as winners emerge in maiden Barista Competition

Saturday, July 10, 2021 2:35 pm

The CEO, Vintage Cafe, Sofia O. Gambino

 By Daniels Ekugo
It was fun and palpable excitement in an atmosphere creativity as the maiden edition of Nigeria Barista Competition, a coffee contest that focuses on promoting excellence in coffee, advancing the barista profession, was held recently at Vintage Cafe, Abuja.
Celebrated dancer, actor, choreographer, and former Housemate, Big Brother Naija 2017, Offiong Edet Anthony, popularly known as Thin Tall Tony, award-winning Nollywood actor, Blossom Chukwujekwu, actor, filmmaker and writer, Peter Boyo, and former Housemate, Big Brother Naija 2019, Isilomo Braimoh, were among the panel of judges for the Competition, the first in Nigerian. The professional technical judges include: Abraham Samuel Mutiso, Salau Olamilekan Oluwafemi, Alex Kavani, Frances Grey and Funmilola Usiloye.
At the end of the delightful competition, Hope James was declared winner, while Chibuzor Victor and Nmanoko Obi Fortune were first and second-runners up respectively.
The CEO, Vintage Cafe, Sofia O. Gambino, who is the brain behind the competition here in Nigeria, said the aim of the competition is to grow the coffee culture and bring the coffee industry back to life, “put our youth on the map so they can compete in world coffee events. I want to encourage more youth or anyone interested or curious to learn and explore to become a barista or try your hand.”
She added, “We want to grow the coffee culture and bring the coffee industry back to life, encourage farmers to grow, teach roasting, maybe encourage a youth to build espresso machines, the possibilities are endless.  This competition will plant a seed to so much more.”
She explained that Barista Competition is mostly derived by the sensory evaluation of specialty coffee through the form of espresso, adding that, “for those who aren’t familiar with Barista Competition, the overarching concept is to present a specialty coffee to a panel of four sensory judges. The barista is given 15 minutes to do so, and in that allotted time, they must serve an espresso course, a milk course and a signature beverage, to each of the sensory judges – meaning 12 drinks total. In doing so, it’s required to share insight into this coffee and scoring is mostly based on the flavours presented by the barista and the correlation each judge finds with the beverage served. While doing this, two technical judges follow your every move and take note of any inconsistent movements, workflow or errors you might make during the preparation of each round of beverages. Above the two technical judges and the four sensory judges, you have a head judge, who oversees the six other judges. These judges are all silent, they allow you full control of the stage, the pace, the coffee, the atmosphere and the service.”
Unlike other competitions, Barista Competition is mostly derived by the sensory evaluation of specialty coffee through the form of espresso.
On why she chose celebrities, especially Nollywood stars and former Housemates of BBNaija as judges, she said: It was something that we had to do, to get people with interest on giving back to the society, but people our youths can connect and associate with – Nollywood stars, Big Brother Naija… So, I needed something to excite them as well.  It became more than I even expected it to be. And it helped to make my dream a reality.”
She assured me that it will become an annual event.
Speaking with Saturday Telegraph about his experience in the show, Thin Tall Tony described it as top-notch, adding that he was very opportune and humbled to be invited as a judge.
“I have always been very inquisitive in terms of knowing new things. At Barista Competition we had a moment where we had to work with one of the technical judges who came from Lagos and schooled us on how to taste, how to reset. There was much information that was given about coffee that a lot of people don’t know. It was also my first time testing an espresso, but obviously, the lati and signature coffees were amazing.
“My experience was top-notch, and I can literally have a conversation with anyone especially in the coffee business or even outside the coffee business now, to tell you what and what you can get, and how much money you can make,” he said.

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