Brewer and pub operator, Brakspear has named Ali Wilson as its Barista of the Year after he won the company's inaugural competition, held across its managed estate with coffee supplier Paddy & Scott's.
Wilson, a team member at the George Townhouse in Shipston-on-Stour, and his general manager Pete Nicholas, win a trip to Monaco to visit the Conti Espresso coffee machine factory.
Wilson, pictured centre with runners up Georgie Clarke and Matthew O'Reilly, took the top prize after impressing judges at the finals of the contest, where Coffee Champions from five pubs competed in three stages: a ‘three drink order', making three different coffees in three minutes; a quiz testing knowledge on coffee in general and on Paddy & Scott's, and finally a Signature Drink, where contestants created a new coffee serve.
Wilson's winning coffee was ‘Half a Pint of Bitter', a shaken mixture of espresso, hot water and a syrup made from honey, orange and ginger, all topped with steamed milk and served in a Brakspear half pint glass. The serve will now be sold across the managed estate.
The finals were judged by three experts from Paddy & Scott's. As well as handing the Brakspear Barista of the Year title to Wilson, they also named two runners up, Matthew O'Reilly from the Running Horses near Dorking and Georgie Clarke from the Townhouse in Stratford-on-Avon, who each won a Paddy & Scott's hamper.
The final judging was the culmination of a process that started in April, when Paddy & Scott's visited all nine Brakspear managed pubs to assess their coffee offer. Following this, Brakspear delivered training, firstly for each pub's Coffee Champion and then for other team members, designed to improve their coffee making skills and coffee knowledge.
As well as training, Brakspear has installed new coffee machines and crockery at some sites. As a result, coffee sales have grown by 44% since Paddy & Scott's became Brakspear's coffee partner last September, compared to the previous nine months.
Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said, 'The quality of entries to this first Barista Competition and the high standards and creativity from our finalists were impressive and we're delighted to reward our winner and runners up. All five signature coffees were exceptional and could have been sold across the estate.
'Serving a great cup of coffee is just as important as serving a great pint of beer and, with support from Paddy & Scott's, we've invested in serious training this year to give our pubs the winning edge in the competitive out of home coffee market. We're already seeing the benefits in improved coffee quality and increased sales and we look forward to this continuing - as well as to our next Barista competition in 2018.'
Emma Haines, account manager at Paddy and Scott's and one of the judges, said, 'Paddy & Scott's are delighted to be working with Brakspear to provide excellent coffee, made by trained baristas. The barista competition amplifies the commitment from both pub staff and the company overall to provide great coffee and fabulous service.
'All the judges were thrilled to see such high standards from all entrants and some really inventive signature drinks. We cannot wait to reward Ali with his trip to Monaco and the Conti Espresso factory. A huge well done to all involved.'