Hospitality Business Magazine

Search for Supreme Barista begins 

wild beanBaristas from around the country are perfecting their flat whites and crafting their finest cappuccinos in preparation for the annual Retail Excellence Awards (REX) competition.

Created by Wild Bean Cafe – the largest retailer of Fairtrade coffee in New Zealand – the REX regional heats kicked off this week, with baristas from Whangarei to Dunedin battling it out to make the best coffee in the land.

Head Judge and Cerebos Greggs Coffee Coach Anita Ritchie said the Wild Bean Cafe baristas display their expertise every day and the competition is an acknowledgement of their skill and passion for great coffee. 

“We judge the coffee on taste, smell, presentation, composition and speed but we’re also looking for a barista who has the x-factor that makes their coffee stand out. Many of these baristas have regulars who want their coffee made solely by them – so the coffee they make has to be consistently good and delivered fast,” Ritchie said.

Last year’s ‘Supreme Barista of the Year’ from Wild Bean Cafe Manukau Gina Bowman said she will be back in 2015 to defend her title. “For me as a barista, I feel the awards acknowledge the talent that goes into making great coffee and it’s the perfect way for us to showcase our skills.

“It’s also about making a coffee that puts a smile on a customer’s face as they leave the cafe – that’s what drives me,” she said. 

Director of BP Retail Frank van Hattum said the awards are not only the ultimate achievement for Wild Bean Cafe baristas but also a great way of creating a friendly rivalry between regions. 

“There’s nothing like a bit of competition to bring out the best in people. It takes skill and experience to make the perfect cup of coffee and our baristas work hard to consistently make the highest quality coffee that our customers really love. 

“We set the bar high because that’s what customers have come to expect when they order coffee from Wild Bean Cafe,” he said. 

Mr van Hattum says this focus on quality and service is why Wild Bean Cafe has taken out the Canstar Blue Most Satisfied Customer Award for Coffee Shop Chains two years in a row. “The Canstar Blue award is measured by public opinion and Wild Bean Cafe’s performance each year shows that keeping customers happy is a top priority. 

“We’ve decided to take it one step even further by introducing our new ‘Barista Guarantee’…so if your coffee’s not made just the way you like it, we’ll make you another one for free,” van Hattum said. 

The titles of ‘Best Rookie’, ‘Best Manager’ and ‘Supreme Barista of the Year’ are up for grabs at the REX National Final to be held in November.