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Competition showcases Elgin's young barista talent

By David Porter

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A unique event giving young people the chance to showcase their barista skills has been hailed as a resounding success – and plans are already in the pipeline to make the event annual.

The winning team from Inverurie Academy with judge Tim Sturk. Picture: ABERMEDIA
The winning team from Inverurie Academy with judge Tim Sturk. Picture: ABERMEDIA

Aberdeen-based Caber Coffee spearheaded a schools’ barista challenge competition to shine a light on the efforts of young people, nurturing the links it has created with numerous schools through its special equipment package, training and support for education settings offering the SVQ Barista Skills qualification.

During their 30-minute slot at Maryculter House each team was asked to produce an espresso, a caffe latte or a cappuccino and a signature drink. Teams were also judged on cleanliness, customer service and good practice while using equipment.

Participants were also invited to produce a job advert linking the barista role with the skills required for it and an infographic showing their understanding of the coffee industry.

Special guests on the day included the Provost of Aberdeenshire, Judy Whyte and Sanremo Coffee Machines’ UK National Account Manager James Andrew.

The participants at the competition included pupils from Elgin, Huntly and Inverurie. Picture: ABERMEDIA
The participants at the competition included pupils from Elgin, Huntly and Inverurie. Picture: ABERMEDIA

Overall winners this year were Inverurie Academy, with category wins for Elgin High School and The Gordon Schools, Huntly.

Other award winners included - Gold Standard Customer Service - Bridge of Don Academy; Best Start Up - St Machar Academy; Climate Pledge and Sustainability - Elgin High School; Best Latte Art - Mearns Academy; Best Job Advert - Elgin High School; Best Infographic - The Gordon Schools, Huntly; Best Banter - St Machar Academy; Memorable Moments - Bridge of Don Academy, Mearns Academy.

Commenting on the success of the inaugural schools’ challenge, event co-creator Findlay Leask said: “The standard was incredibly high and we’re extremely proud to have supplied the schools with all the equipment and training needed to deliver the course which, in turn, became the foundation of the challenge. The depth and spread that all the schools have introduced left me deeply impressed at the potential that has been released from ‘just a coffee machine.’ We’re already looking forward to what the teams will produce next year!”

Judge Tim Sturk, Head of Coffee at Aimers Coffee & Tea Ltd and a World Barista Championship judge, said: “This event is important because it sets a tone for students looking to enter the workplace in the near future. During this competition, we saw the seeds that have been planted in these students, starting to come to life. The young people showed passion, creativity, skill and eagerness that can only take them to exciting places in their lives.”

Fellow judge Margo Milne, Director, Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) North East said: “The young people showed such creativity with their signature drinks; the challenge was an excellent demonstration of how far they have come in terms of skills development. The day was also a superb showcase of the great results that can be achieved when industry representatives, partners, schools and young people work together.”

Completing the trio of event judges was Maryculter House Chef Andy Anderson who added: “It was impressive how the young people handled themselves in a pressurised environment. They commanded the room, spoke eloquently and professionally. Each and every one of them is a winner and should be really proud.

Aberdeen For a Fairer World MDEC vice-chair Cara Walkden said: "Young people need opportunities to develop skills like collaboration, adapting, initiative, and creativity, for the workplaces of today and the future. They will need to think more about sustainability and green jobs as part of a just transition. They need to think critically about what they are being told and seeing. These have all been developed as part of this competition.”

To find out more about packages from Caber Coffee which support the SVQ Barista Skills course, email info@cabercoffee.com or call 0845 302 4600.

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