Deaf Baristas to compete at the JHB Coffee & Chocolate Show

In an environment traditionally reserved for the hearing-abled, six very talented deaf baristas will be showing off their skills in the first ever Deaf Barista Competition, to be held during the Coffee & Chocolate Show at Montecasino from 13 – 16 July 2017. (Click here to view poster: meet-the-baristas-deaf-barista-competition)

Ntuthuko, Samukelo, Mduduzi, Thandiwe, Thabo and Rachel have come a long way since their training days at the Ciro Coffee Academy ( After their graduation from the Barista Upliftment Programme, they have been working as full-time baristas at establishments like Spar Bean Tree, Ciro and Britehouse, where they have implemented a unique Coffee Sign Language menu and coffee culture.

But are they ready for this challenge?

Not only is this the first time they will be competing against each other, but they will also be doing so in front of the world’s coffee elite.

This year, there is something extra to look forward to at the Coffee & Choc Show where six of the world’s leading champion baristas will be there to entertain as the World Coffee Events ( host their All Stars Program, another first for South Africa. These baristas are coffee royalty and will demonstrate what it took to make them some of the world’s best coffee experts.

In celebration of the All Stars being in South Africa, SCASA is also hosting the Gauteng Latte Art and Cup Taster’s Competition and it is against this illustrious backdrop that our deaf baristas find themselves competing – on a SCASA platform and in front of the All Stars. On Saturday 15th of July at 5pm, with Iain Evans of Coffee Magazine as the MC, the six deaf baristas will each be required to prepare two cappuccinos in 10 minutes for the Deaf Barista Competition. They will be judged by SCASA board members George Bertolis (Technical Judge), Alessandro Morrico (Sensory Judge) and Lani Snyman (Head Judge). These baristas have been trained by Ciro’s own passionate Coffee Trainer, Johnson Sehoro.

The winners will not only walk away with cash prizes, but with the knowledge that they have helped create awareness for the education and training of deaf baristas.

“We wanted to host this competition because these baristas deserve a platform to showcase their skills,” explains Lani Snyman, Customer Service Exec of Ciro. “Their disability has not stood in the way of their careers. They are all successful professionals and we want to encourage more members of the coffee community to employ deaf baristas in their own establishments. It is a great platform for both the hearing and the hearing-impaired to communicate through coffee.”

It has certainly changed the lives of these six talented individuals, who now find themselves competing on a world-class stage, in front of coffee leaders and pioneers.

The competition has been initiated by Ciro and is made possible by a number of sponsors and partners: Ciro Coffee Academy who has proudly trained all six competitors; UNISA who has created the officially accredited Short Course in Barista Skills, a NQF Level 5 certificate; eDeaf who promote the education of deaf people, as well as the recruitment of deaf candidates, and has made its qualified interpreters available for the event; SCASA who are running, hosting and judging the Deaf Barista Competition at the show; Coffee Magazine who has been inspired to sponsor some of these baristas and MC the event; and – of course – the Coffee & Chocolate Show owner, Nadine Shone, who is not only providing the platform for the competition, but also advertising the event and sponsoring R1 000 to each barista, as well as the overall prize money, to showcase their skills on this day.

Ciro Coffee Academy promotes the training of deaf people within the barista community and is now a training provider of the new Short Course in Barista Skills that UNISA have introduced as part of their curriculum. As part of this introduction, UNISA are providing a sponsored opportunity for 30 deaf barista candidates to enrol in this course and the coffee community should be encouraged to support this potential talent by sponsoring the stipend of a deaf barista (for the duration of their training), to the value of R2 700 and you can pledge your commitment at the show.

Whether you are a coffee outlet, a restaurant, a corporate, or just someone with a passion for coffee, visit the Coffee & Chocolate Show ( on 15 July 2017 at Montecasino and support the deaf baristas as they showcase their talents.

Coffee really can change a person’s life!

South African Government COVID-19 Resource Portal

For the latest information from the South African Government on COVID-19, please visit the Resource Portal.