I am really happy to announce that I am Barista of the year 2016 London central area champion and speciality drink winner!!! πŸ™‚

Don’t be afraid, now I will explain what I am talking about.. Haha.

I have always loved coffee, although I have never tried to do something different with it… Unless drink it.. πŸ™‚

After I moved to London and I got a job in coffee shop and I have learned that everything is much more difficult than I ever thought before.

The competition Barista Of the year (BOY) 2016, is organised by Costa Coffee every year. There are different stages of this competition:

  • Store heats.
  • Area heats.
  • Regional heats.
  • UK heats.
  • European heats.
  • International heats.

My journey in this competition started quite unexpectedly and with small amount of time to actually prepare to show my skills. I was not nervous until I was standing in front of many people from London Central Area. “Eh, Karol.. Just do it the way you doing it every day.. ” – I thought. Well, probably I just wanted to calm myself down that I would not embarrass myself.. Haha.

I had 15 minutes Β to check the quality of coffee without 3 attempts and make 4 core drinks by Brand Standard (Flat White, Cappuccino, Latte and Espresso).

Alriiiiiight, let’s set the quality of coffee! I did it 2 times and it was still not fine. At that time I started to actually think that that’s it… I am screwed. (Sorry).

I changed it for the last time, hoping that the 3rd time will be lucky…

And it was! I started to breathe again and I made my drinks more relaxed.

After that, I felt like I did good, I gave my presentation after, telling the judges a bit more about myself.

I felt relieved, while other competitors seemed a bit stressed about the results. I went to have a cigarette, and I even changed my uniform to my usual clothes.

I have no idea why I haven’t though that I could really be a champion of London Central area.

When the time came to tell the results, the 2nd and the 3rd place was not what I was expected, I was thinking about other people and it got completely the other way around. I was standing and thinking “So who won? Hm… Maybe that girl.. not sure..”.

“And the winner is Karolina from Southwark store!” – the Area Manager said while I was still wondering is it that girl or guy who won”.

I felt so happy at that moment but I still wasn’t sure what just happened. After few minutes my manager looked at me and screamed: “What we going to do next????”.

And then the preparation for Regional heats started… I needed to create my own drink and present it to judges… Ugh… Sounds difficult and requires time that I don’t have…

After few weeks I finally had my drink – Sparkling Chilli Bomb.

I love the idea that it looks like Jager Bomb!!

Jager Bomb

Unfortunately, I was not allowed to use alcohol… Haha. So I decided to use Tonic Water instead of Red Bull, and shot of espresso instead of jagermeister.

But I felt that there was still something missing, some kind of ‘hint’ for this drink to make it more special. I was trying many things, fruits, marmalade, sweets… Then I decided to use chocolate with chilli. After trying many types of chocolate and chillies I decided to use ‘Birds Eye Chillies’ and mix them with melted ‘Green & Black’s Milk Chocolate’. I have used them to put it around the top of the glass to give the stronger after taste.

Finally, while drinking my ‘Sparkling Chilli Bomb’ you could feel the freshness of Tonic Water, then tasting amazing espresso, and at the end some sweetness with a bit of spiciness eventually. And it comes all together, one by one in few seconds, because obviously you are drinking it like a Jager Bomb!

Finally, I represented my drink in front of the judges and I could have seen their surprise when I started to talk about Jager Bombs. Haha πŸ™‚

They announced that I was the winner of the speciality drink, which was a surprise for me, because my drink was one of the simple ones, comparing to the others. Even if I am not going to the next stages, I am really proud to be champion in London Central Area and I am happy that I got the opportunity to experiment with different things to figure out what I need to create something different.

Regional Finals at Costa Coffee Roastery, 2016.

Great Ideas Starts With Coffee!