The South African leg of the Lavazza Barista Challenge was held on 1 December 2023 at the iconic 54 on Bath Boutique Hotel in Rosebank. The Lavazza Barista Challenge is a renowned global competition that celebrates the artistry and talent of baristas around the world. This prestigious event has been held in various countries, showcasing exceptional coffee craftsmanship. Now, for the first time, it has landed on the shores of South Africa, ushering in a new era of innovation, creativity, and excellence in the local coffee industry. Picture an electrifying atmosphere filled with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the sound of professional baristas showcasing their skills. This is the ambiance of the inaugural Lavazza Barista Challenge, an event that took South Africa’s coffee scene by storm.
Eight baristas from across the county competed fiercely for the main prize, an all-expenses paid trip to Turin, Italy to compete in the finals of the Lavazza International Barista Challenge and of course, bragging rights by taking the official trophy home. Being hosted in South Africa for the first time underscores the country’s growing reputation as a hub for specialty coffee and serves as a testament to Lavazza’s commitment to nurturing local talent. With Lavazza’s involvement, the barista community in South Africa gains access to global expertise, fostering growth and raising the bar in terms of innovation and quality. Organising and hosting the Lavazza Barista Challenge in South Africa was no small feat. Behind the scenes, the dedicated team from Ciro worked meticulously to create an exceptional experience for participants and visitors alike.
The contestants arrived from all corners of South Africa and the baristas competing on the day were:
Among the standout moments of the competition, the baristas amazed everyone with their artistry, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the world of coffee. Showcasing signature drinks that utilised Lavazza’s signature Super Crema, Crema e Aroma, Gran Espresso & Tierra blends, their ability to transform a simple cup of joe into a work of art left the audience applauding and craving another sip. The challenge encompasses a range of requirements which were scrutinised on the day by the exceptional judging panel, testing not only the technical skills of the baristas but also their ability to bring out the unique flavours and aromas of Lavazza’s exceptional coffee blends.
Each participant’s creative interpretation brings forth a kaleidoscope of flavors, presenting judges and spectators with a sensory journey like no other.
From the intense precision of perfectly extracted espressos to the mesmerizing beauty of intricate latte art, every moment of the Lavazza Barista Challenge wows the audience. The baristas’ dedication and determination shine through as they passionately create their coffee masterpieces, leaving attendees in awe. After some intense detabte and scoring from the judges the top 3 Barista were announced and a winner was crowned:
Words from Christiaan Jacobs – 2023 South African champion
“It was a real honour to be invited to compete in the Lavazza Barista challenge. Choosing a coffee to work with challenged me to approach coffee and my recipe with a fresh perspective. My aim was to try and find what story the coffee had to tell.
Stepping on stage is always a nerve wrecking experience, and becomes more stressful when you have other competitors bringing their best to the stage as well. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the other competitors was both an honour and a fantastic learning experience.
Everyone of the other baristas brought their best. Every one of them were well prepared and created unique and complex recipes that highlighted different complexities in the coffee.
So winning the competition was a shock and a privilege. The preparation and hard work paid off. I am excited to represent South Africa and the hard work of all of the baristas at the World Competition in April.”
From the intense competition rounds to the unforgettable taste experiences, there was an atmosphere of inspiration and camaraderie. The event showcased the remarkable talents of South African baristas, paving the way for a future marked by innovation, collaboration, and excellence.
We are thrilled to have shared this journey with you and invite you to join the conversation. Share your thoughts, experiences, and your favorite coffee moments in the comments below. Let’s continue to celebrate the fascinating world of baristas and the extraordinary coffee culture they create together!