The UK’s largest food and support services provider and fourth-biggest coffee retailer in the UK, Compass Group UK & Ireland, held its inaugural Barista Championships, which saw four finalists from across the Compass portfolio take part in a highly competitive and thrilling championship final. The competition was designed to mirror the ‘World Barista Championships’ set-up, to prepare Compass baristas to compete nationally. Razvan Cojocaru, from Restaurant Associates, was crowned winner following two intense rounds, where he demonstrated strong technical ability as well as complex coffee knowledge in his skill, with strong professionalism throughout.
Razvan used a coffee from Costa Rica Cordillera Del Fuego which was processed using an anaerobic fermentation method and roasted by the team at Roastworks coffee. Razvan explained that the coffee was like “liquid apple pie”.
Competitors: Pariwartan Nepal, from Eurest, Thales Pona, from Restaurant Associates, Arthur Luccats, from Compass Ireland and Razvan Cojocaru seized the opportunity to demonstrate their skills. The competition focused on three key areas: Espresso, milk and a signature drink. All baristas were judged against SCA competition guidelines, using their rules, regulations and score sheets.
The final took place at Compass’ SCA accredited premier training campus at the company’s Chertsey HQ, complete with an esteemed panel of judges flown in from Italy and Switzerland as well as the UK. The judging panel consisted of Robert Ward, Cimbali – Technical Judge, Lauro Fioretti, Simonelli Group and Andre Eiermann, UCC – Sensory Judges. Having competed and judged at UK and World Championships themselves, the panel of judges were best placed to survey and assess Compass’s baristas skills. In addition, Compass Coffee Education and Training Manager, Sonali Tailor oversaw the judging team as head judge.
The winner received a trip of a lifetime to an Origin’s coffee farm in Costa Rica. Razvan will get to see first-hand where the humble coffee bean starts its journey, as well as the social community projects at the origin.
Steve Lovegrove, Head of Business Excellence, Compass Group UK & Ireland said of the event: “The standard and quality of the baristas competing has been exceptional, congratulations go out to each and every one of the competitors who have put so much into this competition. It clearly demonstrates the great talent we have in our business and it makes me extremely proud that we can showcase the skills and talents of these individuals.”
Owen Thom, Education Business Development Manager, The SCA added: “It was a great honour to be a judge in the heats for Compass Barista Championships. Seeing all the talent on show, and the passion of all participants is a credit to the competition and the coffee education that the Barista Academy has in place. I look forward to seeing the journey of the winner and all the candidates.”
Razvan Cojocaru, Compass Barista Champion 2019 said of his experience: “Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me and this competition. I feel so grateful to have won and cannot wait to fly to Costa Rica. This has been such an amazing experience from beginning to end, and I feel so proud to be a part of the Barista Academy, it has given me the confidence and opportunity to take part and I can’t wait for more competitions.”
Prior to the inaugural final, baristas from around the Compass business took part in heats where competitors were tasked to present two espressos and two milk beverages of their choice within 7 minutes.