Three baristas. Three area competitions. Three grueling segments. Three specialty drinks. One winner. Gwyneth Gabay is Costa Coffee Philippines’ “Barista of the Year 2017/18 Country Champion” and is set to represent the country in the regional championship in Dubai, UAE in November. The regional winner will then join the much-anticipated Champion of Champions in London next year.
It was truly a competitive parade of “Pride. Passion. Personality” plus girl power as this 24-year-old barista representing Costa Coffee One World Place, BGC bested two male opponents in the country finals that consisted of a series of Technical Challenge, Speciality Drink Presentation, and an Espresso Race.
Joseph Palmiano of Eastwood and Gerardo Golong of Robinsons Galleria were adjudged first and second runners-up, respectively.
The three baristas judged based on their ability to make excellent coffee to brand standards and deliver multiple drinks; their passion for coffee evidenced by excellent coffee knowledge and in telling the coffee journey with confidence; and their outstanding communication skills manifested in the way they engage with customers, colleagues, and management as well as their enthusiasm and confidence as Costa Coffee ambassador.
“The most difficult part of the competition was the Technical aspect because we had to prepare a total of 16 drinks including latte, cappuccino, and flat white within 35 minutes. Although I was pressed for time, I just wanted to do everything flawlessly while enjoying the moment,” Gabay said.
At the Speciality Drink Presentation, Gabay showcased her own personally concocted Rose Spiced Iced Latte—an espresso-based coffee blended with rose syrup, milk, and cinnamon powder then finished off with a rose petal and cinnamon stick.
“I went to school in Baguio and had my first barista job there as well. Baguio is famous for its Panagbenga Flower Festival plus I’m the only female in the competition; so I thought of using a rose, and the cinnamon stick—which has antioxidant properties—as ingredients in my Speciality drink,” she explained.
Palmiano made a coffee mock-tail called Frutato Café Spumante, a watermelon-based sparkling coffee mixed with fresh lemonade and tonic water while Golong made Pandan Sale d’ Italia, a ristretto shot combined with lemongrass, pandan leaves, honey and lemon juice.
Annually since 2006, the finest baristas from Costa Coffee stores across continents are flown to London to compete for the title—Champion of Champions. Now on its third year in the Philippines, the country has been a serious contender for the highly coveted distinction, producing winners in the past.
Gladys Fornoles, a Barista Maestro from Costa Coffee Robinsons Place Manila, was the first Country Champion of the Barista of the Year (BOTY) competition held in 2015, the same year Costa Coffee made its debut in the Philippines. She represented the Philippines in the Southeast Asian competition in Singapore.
Justin de la Fuente, meanwhile, competed in Singapore as Philippines’ wildcard winner. He bested other baristas from Southeast Asia and moved on to the world competition in London where he impressed no less than head judge and Costa’s Coffee Master Gennaro Pellicia (his tongue is insured for £10M to protect his expertly tuned taste buds) with his personal creation, the Sparkling Café Mojito made with Filipino dalandan.
Costa Coffee in the Philippines are located at Citywalk 1 Eastwood; Robinsons Place Manila; One World Place, BGC; Tera Tower, Bridgetown; Robinsons Place Antipolo; The Block, SM North Edsa; Robinsons Selections, Venice Grand Canal; Robinsons Supermarket, Robinsons Galleria; UP Town Center; Robinsons Equitable Tower & Robinsons Galleria.
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