Natalia Taraskiewicz has been selected as the winner of CH&CO’s Barista of the Year 2022 competition.
Natalia, part of the Gather & Gather team at Sky Osterley, showcased incredible talent at the final of the Barista of the Year competition where technical skills, knowledge, creativity and latte art were put to the test.
Open to all baristas across the diverse catering and hospitality business, the CH&CO Barista of the Year competition underpins its commitment to coffee excellence, whilst celebrating the people at the heart of its delivery. It gives baristas the opportunity to develop their craft, share ideas and learnings with peers, and continue to experiment and push boundaries.
Making it accessible for baristas at every stage of their careers, the Barista of the Year competition was split into two categories – Brilliant Basics and Barista of the Year.
Barista of the Year was designed to find the ultimate CH&CO barista champion. The multi-disciplinary coffee competition challenged the more experienced baristas to showcase what they can do with a big emphasis on customer service and exceptional coffee skills, including day-to-day skills, signature drink, latte art and brewing.
Brilliant Basics celebrated CH&CO’s emerging barista talent, showcasing the developing skills of baristas that are new to coffee or had not competed before. This competition challenged them to demonstrate a range of skills, progression and flair with a focus on day-to-day coffee service skills, including latte art and a signature drink.
Following 5 regional heats, 13 finalists from across the UK and Ireland made it to the final in London.
The Baristas performed under the watchful eyes of expert judges including Francesca Coombe, Account Manager, Redemption Roasters; Vincenzo Barlie, Head of Coffee at Sky for Gather & Gather; Chris Hall, General Manager, Gather & Gather; Aidan Lonergan, Head of Coffee Development, Gather & Gather Ireland; Johnny England, Director of Coffee, Lofbergs and Ashley Dawes, Key Account Manager, Union Hand Roasted Coffee.
The Brilliant Basics competition was won by Raffaella Grillo part of the Sky Ocean Rescue Team at Sky Osterley.
And just for fun, the CH&CO leadership team and those within the business more use to drinking coffee than brewing it, were put to the test in a timed challenge. Following an on-the-spot training session and practice run, they were tasked to produce two flat whites with latte art as quickly as possible, with varying results.
Matt Symonds, Managing Director for Gather & Gather, part of CH&CO, said: “What an amazing Barista of the Year final. The barista talent and coffee knowledge we have across CH&CO is superb and it’s great to have the opportunity to showcase and celebrate it in this way. All the finalists brought their ‘A game’ and I was blown away by their pure talent and flair. The standard was incredibly high, and it was truly a close call for the judges. Everyone should be incredibly proud of what they have achieved, but huge congratulations must go to Natalia, our worthy winner.
“Congratulations also go to Raffaella, the winner of our Brilliant Basics competition – they are most definitely a talent to watch! As for the leadership challenge, that was a lot of fun but let’s just say we’ll stick to drinking coffee and leave the brewing in the safe hands of our talented baristas!”
As well as developing their skills and enjoying the competition experience, the winners and finalists also received some fantastic prizes including a group espresso machine, a Specialty Coffee Association Brewing Course and an educational trip to Victoria Arduino in Italy,
The event was generously supported by Union Hand Roasted Coffee, Victoria Arduino Machinery, Lofbergs, Minor Figures, Jaguar Espresso, Beyond the Bean, The Roasting Party, Bidfood, Nisbets and Debaere UK.