Ishan Natalie, national beverage manager and trainer for Woolworths Café and the TriBeCa Coffee Roasting Company, has scooped the title of South Africa’s (SA) Barista Champion for the second consecutive year. Natalie, who is setting his sights on winning the World Barista Championships to be held in Olympia, London this June, whipped up his winning signature drink entitled ‘Decadence’ much to the judges’ delight. The textured, espresso-based drink consisted of numerous layers of cream, milk, shortbread biscuits, Irish cream, cashew nuts chocolate biscuits and lime zest. The 2010 SA Barista Championships, which were held recently at the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town, put budding coffee connoisseurs through their coffee-making paces. Each contestant had to prepare four espressos, four cappuccinos and four non-alcoholic signature drinks all in only 15 minutes. Judges evaluate each contestant on every aspect of a participant during the competition; from their personality to their professionalism, their overall coffee knowledge and the overall taste and aroma of their individual coffees. Two technical judges also note each contestant’s technique and their understanding of the equipment they were using. According to Natalie, who started his love affair with coffee in 2000 when he innocently asked to be trained as a barista at the then newly launched Woolworths Café at Gateway Mall, KwaZulu-Natal, coffee is complex and fascinating. He believes that learning how to grind coffee correctly and then how to extract a perfect shot of espresso from the ground beans without destroying their distinct natural and sweet flavour is the cornerstone of the coffee-making process. “My aim is to not only ensure that every cup of coffee I serve is as perfect as it can be but that those I’m serving understand the intricacies and delicacies of this much-loved beverage,” says Natalie. Ishan attributes his success to the training he received from Woolworths’ café partner, TriBeCa Coffee Roasting Company, in Pretoria where he was taught the multi-faceted skill of being a barista and given hands-on experience to perfect his skills. This level of commitment is what sets apart those who are good at what they do and those that are brilliant at what they love doing. “I’ve worked so hard to get where I am now and it means the world to me that for the second year I’ve been awarded this prestigious award,” adds Natalie. Tips from the coffee guru include: always use filtered water when making tea or coffee and always let boiling water settle for a minute or two before pouring it over coffee or tea. Learn how to use your coffee grinder and/or machine, and if you’re passionate about coffee follow your heart; learn more about it and develop your passion into a skill. One of the biggest challenges Natalie expects to confront at the World Barista Championship is the fact that he has no idea if the milk he’ll be using is as good as the Woolworths Ayrshire milk he has access to back home. The World Barista Championship will take place from 23 to 25 June 2010 in Olympia, London. ENDS Issued on behalf of: Woolworths Issued by: liquidlingo Communications Contact: Bazukise Marasha +27 21 424 1530