Chef Middle East, in collaboration with Mikah Coffee, Rude Health and Catcher Gourmet, launched the competition ‘Barista Battle 2021’ on the 1st of November 2021, engaging top-rated baristas in the UAE with an exceptional challenge to stretch their imagination and coffee making techniques, creating five Classic coffees: Espresso – Americano – Macchiato – Caffe Latte – Cappuccino, and one original signature drink following exacting standards in a fifteen-minute time challenge.
The finale was held on the 23rd of November 2021 at WKND Café Dubai, focusing essentially on rejoicing excellence in coffee with advanced barista talents, getting creativity to sparkle with innovative coffee flavour pairings.
Each competitor received a products kit prior to the competition’s finale, to prepare their drinks using exclusively Mikah Rossino coffee, Rude Health Organic Barista Soy Milk, and Catcher Gourmet sauces.
Tauland Hyka, Beverage Category Manager at Chef Middle East said: “The main objective of ‘Barista Battle 2021’ was to bring together a community of coffee specialists and baristas to challenge and compete making classic and signature coffees. Participants worked closely with our non-dairy barista range milk from Rude Health, our beautiful selection of coffee blends from Mikah Coffee, and of course the delicious flavours of Catcher Gourmet sauces.
WKND Café was the perfect venue match for this competition, known for serving beautiful coffees in an innovative way, with not only a welcoming ambience but an outstanding bar counter for the baristas to showcase their skills. Organizing such events help bring together the industry professionals through an engaging platform, and it is especially important for this market segment as there isn’t much happening, yet the community is big and holds great talents worth being recognized and rewarded.
In the finale, baristas competed in a first-round, from which the top 5 competitors advanced to the final round to name the final top 3 winners of this competition: Glenda Pataray from Five Palm Jumeirah Hotel who took the first place; Tara Pithakote from Clap Dubai who was runner-up; and Julius Pelagio from The Grey who made it third.
The ultimate winner Pataray said: “My signature drink “GEM-Green EyeLand Martini” resembles the human eye and the land where I started my coffee grind. A perfect combination of the matcha, soya, peppermint flavour and my secret shot of coffee. It lips your mood, energizes your body, and awakens your soul. It’s a coffee transformation that everyone will enjoy. Being a participant in this event was a roller-coaster ride of fun and excitement. Meeting new people and being exposed to their level of creativity, challenged me to give more.”
The judging panel of coffee connoisseurs included Nana Sechere, Brand Ambassador at Beam Santory, Helen Rees, Founder at Nina’s Consultancy representing Rude Health brand, and Massimo Hakim, Founder and CEO at Mikah Coffee, evaluating each creation on specific criteria: flavour, balance, cleanliness, creativity, technical skill, and overall presentation.
Rees added: “I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon judging the ‘Barista Battle 2021’. It was great to see the level of engagement and innovation foremost from all the baristas with their craft, and latterly with the brands and ingredients, they had to work with. The mechanics of the competition were very well thought-out but also simplistic in their approach, which gave the whole afternoon a relaxed and fun feel, where everyone took something worthwhile away. The talent of all the participants was phenomenal, throughout the afternoon, but especially witnessed in the last round, where the finalists had prepared their ‘secret drinks and ingredients’ with what was clearly a high level of thoughts for their craft.”
Baristas presented their signature drinks, each with a unique story, flavours and aromas, showcasing various performances and inspiring creations. Amazing presentations that, undoubtedly, made it challenging for the judges to assess and select the winner.
Hakim commented: “Being a judge in the Barista Battle 2021 competition was a beautiful experience, the event was very well organized to the highest standards and with a great atmosphere. All participants presented a high level of professionalism, with some noticeable knowledge of coffee extraction and coffee-making techniques. The coffee world is in continuous evolution, that’s why all the people involved in this lovely industry need to always get involved in exchanging knowledge. Such competitions are of great value, a platform for professionals to show their talent and experience.”
Sechere said: “It was a pleasure presenting the prizes to the winners and seeing how happy they were, it truly brought a good feeling that will stay with me for a long time. All participants were clearly passionate professionals showing high energy level among the coffee specialists’ community.”
Coffee focused competitions are very exciting and significantly growing in popularity with the market starting to define coffee as a premium beverage and expecting more from coffeeshops. The Barista Battle 2021 confirms how sophisticated and delightful coffee beverages can be with excellent originality, flair, balance and skill of preparation.
With ‘Barista Battle 2021’, Chef Middle East introduced a new platform for the baristas segment in the UAE to celebrate cutting edge techniques and highlight local talents, featuring its newly added premium quality brands and products – within its mission to constantly supply to best ingredients and raise the bar within the foodservice sector.