Starbucks Barista Championship: The winner takes it all.
Starbucks Aruba has a new Barista Champion: Gillianne Alders "Gilley". Tough choice made by Janella Werleman, Chanteau Ogilvie and yours truly.
Little do we know about the craft behind our daily coffee order at Starbucks. There's a whole standard of excellence to be followed. Back on Thursday, September 9, la Crème de la crème of all Starbucks outlets in Aruba gathered to earn the coveted spot of Barista Champion of Aruba. Natasha Rasmijn representing Starbucks Renaissance Mall, Alexsia Geerman representing Starbucks Paseo Herencia, Gilliane Alders "Gilley" representing Starbucks Renaissance Marketplace and Alexander Laclé representing Starbucks Gloria proved all of us how skilled and knowledgeable they are when it comes to their passion: coffee making.
Being a coffee lover myself, a person that can't fathom the idea of a day in life without having a cup of the brown elixir, I was thrilled to be invited to join the panel that would decide the next Barista Champion of Aruba.
It was time to start the competition and the Starbucks brand standards were top priority when it comes to score their skills and craft. Being an outsider myself, the afternoon was filled with new information about measurements, ingredients and blends. Competitors were eager to showcase how good they are at it and the timer was set to 15 minutes to complete 4 coffee preparations: Cloud Caramel Macchiato, Iced Americano, Latte (including Latte art) and one of their choice.
That was the first part of their race. Following those, the competitors were challenged to give a complete explanation of their blend of choice and method to prepare a Pour Over, old school way to prepare coffee. The table was decked out with different things. As a proud latino I recognized the technique. Back home in Venezuela we are used to brew coffee using a cloth filter, it was the grandma's way. Nowadays, things are more specific and grams and milliliters matter when it comes to the perfect taste and intensity. Who knew!
Huge technical aspects, use of the station, timing, charisma, engagement and knowledge were crucial to evaluate the participants. This evaluation was nothing casual, points were discounted on every mishap they had which made the race to the prize very tight.
After calculations and deliberations, the judge's panel agreed on a winner: Gilley! she was the one! It was an incredible tight race as I said and we were convinced that all participants were worthy of winning. The prize: the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica to participate in the 6th Barista Championship Experience where Baristas from 16 countries from Latin America and The Caribbean will have the opportunity to share their craft and passion for coffee.
I left the judging experience full of new information about the coffee making process, origins and overall huge respect for Natasha, Alexsia, Gillianne, Alex and all those individuals behind the Starbucks counters. They know their stuff!
Massive congratulations to all! Their passion, knowledge and charisma made me aware of how valuable their contribution is to a habit that we could consider simple: going to Starbucks for a cup of coffee. Behind those counters are incredible individuals that care about their craft and want to make our days better every time they serve us.
Thanks to the Starbucks Aruba team for this incredible experience.
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Photography coverage by Carlos Delgado @carlosdelgadx