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March 6, 2017

Compass baristas raise the brew bar

COMPASS Group New Zealand’s (Compass) Baristas fiercely competed to see who could brew the best coffee in the country at the company’s annual Barista competition on Thursday 16 February 2017.

Compass partners with Cerebos Greggs Food Service (Cerebos) to recognise great Baristas using top-quality ORB 101 coffee beans. Around 40 Baristas enter to compete for the final four top spots.

Amy McKinnon (Medirest, Senior Living, Hawke’s Bay), Sarah Strawbridge (Medirest, Christchurch Public Hospital), Kulwant Singh (Medirest, North Shore Hospital), and Tairi Paratainga (Medirest, Taranaki Base Hospital) all vied for the winning title. This year’s winner is Sarah, with her signature beverage called An affair of the Heart: a fusion of espresso and beetroot. This passionate Barista also won the 2013 competition.

“Working in a hospital, I wanted to create a drink that was healthy, but which also showcases the versatility of the espresso,” says Sarah.

Sarah’s winning coffee – made up of Orb espresso, powdered beetroot, Flying Cup vanilla syrup, and milk and served with candied Pomelo on the side – was inspired by her work in the Public Healthcare Sector.

“Beetroot has amazing antioxidant properties and is good for your heart and blood circulation,” she says.

“Orb is such a great quality coffee bean and has three distinct flavour notes: cocoa, nutty and fruity. The beetroot infused milk draws out the chocolatey notes of the espresso, a dash of vanilla adds sweetness. The beverage is served with candied Pomelo (green grapefruit) which changes the flavour profile entirely, reinvigorating the tangy fruity flavours.”

As part of the competition, each contestant made a signature beverage using the Flying Cup Syrup, as an expression of the Barista and their understanding of espresso. It was not allowed to be a recognised drink, but aimed to encourage Baristas to be creative and to have fun with their espresso and the new syrups. During the performance the competitor was invited to talk to the judges and tell the ‘story’ and the flavours behind creating their drink.

“The calibre of Baristas was very high. It was exciting to see everyone bring their skills to the competition, while adding personal ‘flair’ to make their coffee and service skills stand out,” says Compass Group General Manager Supply Chain Jane Fitzpatrick.

“Sarah did well to win this year’s competition. She really impressed the Cerebos judges with both her Barista skills and the amount of thought she put into her ‘signature’ coffee – all inspired by health and wellbeing.”

Medirest Chief Operating Officer Julian Baldey adds, “We encourage our people to compete in the competition as it supports them to keep abreast of new trends, while enabling them to showcase their passion for their craft. It’s a real celebration and fantastic to see such creativity within our Public Healthcare Sector.”

Judging criteria included assessing set-up, performance, and clean-up to assess the best coffee maker on the day.

“I was so impressed with the standards of all the Baristas and thoroughly enjoyed meeting them all,” says Cerebos Greggs Sarah Kennard.

“I hope they’ve realised the exciting opportunities the coffee industry could bring them. Coming this far in the competition has shown me that each of them are dedicated to self-improvement, self-development and to the craft of making coffee. And that’s not only exciting for the individuals, but for Compass Group.

“I hope they continue to share their new found-knowledge and skills with their teams and continue to push themselves to become better Baristas.”

Top Trends for 2017

    • Golden Latte – also known as golden milk, turmeric latte or turmeric tea
    • Matcha – finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea
    • Cold brew – the process of steeping coffee grounds in water at a cool or hot temperature for an extended period.


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