TALENTED trainee Baristas representing local learning disabilityorganisations have successfully taken part in a new competition that has giventhem the chance to show–off their coffee–making skills in a competitive arenafor the first time.
‘The NOW Barista Competition – sponsored by Johnsons Coffee’ saw 11trainees currently completing vocational catering qualifications with fivelocal training and employment charities compete against each other in front ofthree coffee industry experts.
The event at Johnsons Coffee’s Lisburn HQ was organised by Belfastcharity NOW, which provides training and employment opportunities for peoplewith learning difficulties. NOW decided to set up the competition in responseto a lack of similar events for people with learning difficulties in the localand national catering competition calendar.
Thecharitable training and employment organisations represented at the BaristaCompetition included the Orchardville Society in East Belfast, Stepping StonesNI in Lisburn, Barnardo’s ‘Dr B’s Kitchen’ in Belfast city centre, Step by StepNI’s ‘One 80’ cafes and restaurants in Portadown and Armagh and NOW itself.
Sueanne Hanna from LisburnStepping Stones NI came away with the Gold Medal at the inaugural event. Shewas congratulated on her achievement by lead judge Philip Mills, Group SalesManager for Johnsons Coffee, who described the competitors as “of an extremelyhigh standard”.
“I judge Barista competitionsup and down the country and the standard here today was easily as good as I’veever seen,” said Philip, who was joined on judging duties by Jan Moore, BaristaTrainer with Johnsons Coffee, and Sé Gorman, Proprietor of Café Krem and formerNI Barista Champion.
“I want to thank all thebaristas for taking part – you’re all winners today.”
Competition organiser AnneCheevers, Trainer with NOW, said she was glad NOW and Johnsons Coffee couldhelp bring about an event that allowed trainee baristas with learningdifficulties the chance to test their skills in a competitive setting.
“Trainees from NOW’s cateringdepartment have taken part and been successful in both the national IFEX andCATEX catering competitions over the past five years,” explained Anne.
“This year we approached bothevents to see if it would be possible to include a class within the Baristacategories for our service users, but we were told that this had been suggesteda few years ago and it did not happen due to a lack of support. As a result, wedecided to set up our own competition with the help of Johnsons Coffee, whokindly offered to sponsor and host the event. We’re so pleased that thecompetition went well as the 11 trainees taking part have been preparingthemselves for months. We’d now love to see this event included in the BaristaCompetition category at IFEX in 2014.”