Costa Coffee last week (24 January) crowned 21 year-old Londoner, Kinga Sobczynska, its 2017 Barista of the Year champion, after beating 11 other baristas at the global final.
Despite having only been with the company for five months, Sobczynska – who works at the chain’s Brent Cross Shopping Centre store – impressed judges “with her outstanding performance in each stage of the final, pouring her own personality, talent, imagination and skill in her coffee creations.”
Up against 11 other baristas from around the world (including Poland, the Philippines and China), each contestant had to prove their ability to produce a “technically perfect cup of hand-made coffee”; personality, performance, flair and passion for coffee; knowledge and understanding of the industry; and their creativity by inventing their own signature drink.
Sobczynska’s drink – a ‘Plum Cake’ “full-flavoured, fruity yet bitter drink with a kick of spice” – saw her take home the winning title as well as a 10-day trip for two to a country with a coffee connection of her choice, commenting: “I’m still in shock that I have won Barista of the Year.
“The whole journey has been amazing and it was such an honour to even make the final and meet other baristas from all around the world. I’m very grateful to my trainers, family, friends, and everyone else who got involved and given me so much support along the way.”
Alongside judges Clair Preston-Beer, Costa Coffee’s Middle Eastern managing director and TV chef Phil Vickery, head judge and Costa’s Master of Coffee, Gennaro Pelliccia, said: “With over 30,000 baristas around the world, Kinga did a fantastic job against outstanding competition. She has everything we look for in our baristas: someone who possesses true pride, passion and personality.
“Our people are the most important ingredient in our (Costa’s) coffee. The confidence and craft they show in their coffee making skills ensures that our customers around the world know and love across our unique blend.
Vickery added: “This is my fourth year judging the Barista of the Year competition. I am always so astounded by the outstanding skill, knowledge and dedication displayed by all the finalists and this year was no exception.
“I have been particularly impressed with the barista’s creativity in making and developing their speciality drinks for us today, and presenting themselves in such a confident and engaging manner.”