This is one of the best events of our coffee calendar.
To take these incredible baristas out from behind their espresso machines and into the limelight of the Coffee & Chocolate Expo can be incredibly daunting, but everyone took it in their stride and gave wonderful performances. The competition began three years ago as a platform to raise awareness of the Deaf Barista Training program championed by Ciro, eDeaf and UNISA. It was a way to showcase their skills and help get the baristas placed in permanent jobs so that the project was sustainable moving forward. We are very pleased to announce that of the eight competitors that took part this year, all have permanent employment and support from their employers. This is a fantastic vote of confidence in the success of this project and we hope to see it continue long into the future.
The 2019 Champion was Mduduzi Lukhuleni (Old Mutual), who won the inaugural competition in 2017. He placed 3rd last year and was determined to come back strong. He blew the judges away with his charm, professionalism and delicious beverages.
Barron Fourie-Williams (Tsebo Beverage Solutions working at Yum Head Office), who placed second, was just a joy to watch. Careful and deliberate in her performance, her smile melted every heart as she placed her wonderful drinks in front of the judges. Karabo Motla (Tsogo Sun Monte Casino) placed third. So much spunk and confidence and we can see the competition bug has hit him hard! Watch out Mdu, Karabo is hot on your heels! The work that goes into this competition is a team effort, but it was all co-ordinated and driven by Lizaan Alberts of Ciro Coffee Academy. What a woman! Lizaan Alberts, signing ‘Thank you!’ to her team!
As Iain Evans said at the prizegiving, there is no reason that at some point in the future, a deaf barista could make it to the National Barista Championship stage, as sign language is an official language and interpreters are allowed at these competitions. And maybe even one day, they will make it to Worlds! We would be proud to have any of these individuals represent South Africa on the World Stage.
Thank you to all the sponsors of this competition: Ciro Coffee Academy, eDeaf, UNISA, Hearing Works, Coffee Magazine, Coffee & Chocolate Expo, Genio Roasters.