The winner has been announced in a national competition to improve skills and inspire bar staff over coffee across bars and pubs operated by TCG.
Rachael Simmons, assistant manager at Bar 38 in Portsmouth, was named Barista of the Year 2015 after she impressed judges with her Carioca Iced Coffee.
Her drink is an iced espresso coffee with caramel and chocolate sauce, served in a Margarita glass. Inspired by the Carioca dance from South America, Simmons said she had tried to “create a drink that captured the spirit of a warm, sunny Friday afternoon, soaking up the heat and atmosphere and having a great time with friends”.
The iced coffee will be added to TCG’s summer coffee menus, due to be launched across its estate in June.
It is the second year for the competition which follows new menus and training introduced at the company’s bars and pubs in collaboration with coffee supplier Cafeology.
TCG’s chief operating officer, Nigel Wright, said: “Since partnering with Cafeology two years ago, we have raised our game on hot drinks, with investment in new equipment, barista training and regular refreshes of our coffee offer.
“With skilled and motivated teams, our pubs and bars are now able to hold their own against specialist outlets and we are seeing impressive growth.”
He was one of the judges in the barista competition alongside Bryan Unkles and James Oldfield from Cafeology, and last year’s Barista of the Year winner, Andrei Slemco, also from Bar 38 in Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quays.
Four finalists were selected based on initial entries in the competition that challenges team members across the estate to create a new coffee or hot chocolate serve. In the final at Henry’s in London’s Covent Garden, they had to make their own creation and a latte to demonstrate their coffee skills.
Rachael was presented with a Swan bean-to-cup coffee machine, donated by Cafeology, while a bottle of champagne went to the other three finalists: Andzela Cibulskyte from Henry’s Café Bar at West India Quay in London, Manuel Ricci of Henry’s Café Bar in Piccadilly, London, and Natasha Demello from The Lamb in Norwich.
Nigel said: “All our finalists presented delicious, well-presented coffees, but Rachael’s just had the edge, particularly in its visual appeal thanks to the ‘swirling’ of the chocolate sauce.
“The fact that Bar 38 has taken the top prize twice, and that Henry’s West India Quay were finalists both times, shows that coffee skills are being shared across our teams, which is just what we intended when we started the barista training programme.”
Bryan at Cafeology added: “We were once again impressed by the creativity and skill of the Barista of the Year finalists. What really came through was their passion for coffee, which is what makes the difference between a good coffee and a great one.
“Rachael’s winning drink is a worthy addition to the next coffee menu and we’re sure it will prove a popular choice over the summer months.”
Pictured: Shanto Prosad Dash and Andzela Cibulskyte of Henry’s West India Quay, Bryan Unkles of Cafeology, winner Rachael Simmons, TCG chief operating officer Nigel Wright, Natasha Demello of The Lamb, James Oldfield of Cafeology; Manuel Ricci of Henry’s Piccadilly, and Andrei Slemco of Bar 38.