Monday, Jan 21, 2019
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Baristas, steam your wands

Reigning Starbucks Bahamas champion Tariq Cartwright spent one week in Puebla, Mexico, where he got to explore all things coffee, from the planting process to the production of coffee. Joshua Rolle was among a group of 23 Starbucks barista champions representing 13 countries who came together in Bogota, Colombia, at the week-long, second annual Latin America and Caribbean Starbucks Barista Championships Experience in 2015-2016. Before that, Steven Hepburn went down in the history books as the first barista to claim the title in 2014-2015. He was given a trip to Seattle, where he visited the Starbucks Support Center (headquarters) and iconic Starbucks locations, such as the first store in Pike Place Market, and the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room. It’s experiences like these that Starbucks baristas covet when putting their name into the hat with hopes of being named Starbucks barista champion. And 12 semi-finalists will duke it out for the three spots in the final to give themselves a fighting chance at the opportunity of winning the coveted one-week trip and title of Starbucks Bahamas barista champion.

The journey to the crown begins today with a trip to Costa Rica up for grabs.

The semifinalists in today’s fray will be Devonique Knowles, Bryinda Lloyd, Paulshenae Hanna, Regine Sands, Damian Brown, Latoya Cartwright, Shawnell Clarke, Christen Zonicle, Latre Paul, Ricardo Farrington, Antoinez Higgs and D’Ardra Smith. They are all hoping that, when the final milk is steamed and presented, they will emerge among the top three from today’s semis to put themselves into the final.

Among this year’s competitors are four former title seekers, including Smith, a two-time runner-up; as well as Clarke, a one-time runner-up; Brown and Farrington.

The semis take place today at Starbucks Palmdale, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The final is scheduled for Friday, June 15.

Smith is a four-year employee whose favorite beverage is a strawberry lemonade with coconut and raspberry — because, as she puts it, she’s “extra”.

“I live for the smile on a customer’s face when I customize their beverage, and I always like to be creative and encourage them to try something new. I would love to be the next barista champion because I want the opportunity to represent our market and take my coffee passion to the next level,” she said.

Clarke, who is in her second year with the company, says she can never get enough of an iced Starbucks double shot with white mocha, which she says is a great beverage when you need a boost.

“I want to be the 2018 Starbucks Bahamas barista champion because I love sharing my coffee knowledge and experience with everyone I meet. The championship will also give me an opportunity to create and inspire unforgettable bonds between my partners and customers,” said Clarke. “One of the top reasons why I love my job is because it’s not only about preparing the perfect drink for our customers; it’s about the connections we make on a day-to-day basis with our fellow partners and customers.”

Farrington, a five-year employee, says his favorite beverage is the iced caramel macchiato, because it starts off sweet and finishes with a caramel taste from the espresso shots.

“I deserve to be 2018 Starbucks Bahamas barista champion because I’ve worked hard all year long, displaying my knowledge and professionalism in the art of coffee making.

Brown, an employee of a year and a half, claims the mango passion frappucino as his drink of choice because it’s sweet and refreshing.

“I want to become the champion so that I can showcase my skills while given the opportunity to oversee beverage quality and the love for what I do.”

Knowles, a newcomer to the competition has been employed with Starbucks for a year. She lays claim to the green tea latte with vanilla — both iced and hot — as her beverage favorite, because she says it helps to keep her calm and has an amazing flavor whichever way it’s served.

“I want to be 2018 barista champion because I want to be an inspiration to other partners — to be the face they know and recognize, and see that anything is achievable for everyone once their minds are set on a goal.”

Cartwright who has been employed since 2014 loves the chai tea latte — iced or hot.

“I want to win the 2018 Bahamas barista championship simply because I love what I do. Recently I have decided to step outside of the box and do something that so many people, including myself, never thought they would see me do. I’ve let go all of my doubts and fears and replaced them with hard work, dedication and determination because I was born a winner. So winning would not just be the end for me. To win would be an extraordinary start to the rest of my journey in Starbucks.”

Sands, an employee of 10 months, who was brave enough to throw her hat into the ring, says the strawberry and cream Frappuccino is her beverage of choice, because she has a “sweet mouth”.

Confident in her abilities, she said, “I will be the 2018 Starbucks Bahamas barista champion because I’m fully prepared for a change and the responsibility that comes with the title barista champion. I’m ready to expand my knowledge and to educate others on what it is to be a part of Starbucks and how you can push yourself to be great at what you love doing.”

Paul, an employee of one year and six months, says he loves the iced green tea lemonade with coconut and peach, which he said is refreshing.

“I want to be the 2018 barista champion because I want to experience firsthand what it is to be known as the regional top barista.

Lloyd a five-year-plus veteran is a coconut milk mocha macchiato fan. Although it’s a new beverage to the menu, she says she’s a huge coconut fan, which makes it enjoyable for her.

“The reason why I feel I should win is because I have the momentum. I feel the love, the drive, and my interest is where it needs to be.”

Hanna, an employee of a little over a year is a little hard to pin down in the drinks category. Two months ago, her favorite beverage was the quad grande two pump vanilla, one pump hazelnut caramel macchiato; now it’s a lightly sweetened shaken green tea, which she said is far from the quad caramel macchiato, but refreshing with many health benefits. For her she says a healthy, refreshing drink trumps a jumpstart.

“I want to be the 2018 Starbucks barista champion because I am passionate about what I do, and want to share my passion with other partners.”

Zonicle, who has been with Starbucks for a year and two months, is a green-tea-lemonade-with-strawberry kind of girl, because it’s a refreshing, fruity drink that she says is perfect thirst quencher.

“I want to be the next Starbucks Bahamas barista champion to show everyone that anything is possible once you try your best,” she said.


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