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Seven in fray for Starbucks barista title

A Costa Rican coffee immersion and the honor of being called champion for a year is the prize seven baristas are shooting for during this year’s Starbucks Barista Championship.

This year’s showdown will pit a four-year company veteran, as well as a two-year veteran, against colleagues who have been in the company for months to just over a year.

Jamal “Mally” Tucker-Fields, Stan Troy Saunders, Joshua “Josh” Knowles, Devonique “Dev” Knowles, Olando “Lando” Knowles, Jameka Stubbs and Eddion Whyms compete for the coveted title on June 21 at the Starbucks Southwest Plaza, in a scaled back version of the competition that will showcase the semi-finals and finals both taking place on the same day between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Tucker-Fields, a one-year and five-month employee, is seeking the title because he would love to get the opportunity to pit himself against top baristas from through the Caribbean and gain coffee knowledge.

His favorite beverage is a quad espresso with two honey and a little cinnamon. It’s his go-to drink because it gets him going right away, and tastes great.

Saunders, a seven-month employee, said he wants to be champ because he wants to learn more about coffee, Starbucks and himself.

His favorite beverage is a shaken strawberry lemonade with very light strawberry; on special days he opts for a grande extra hot green tea latte with four pumps cinnamon dolce.

Josh, who has been employed for a year, says he’s in the fray for the title because he loves working with coffee and serving customers and believes he has a great chance to win with the skills he’s acquired in his 12 months.

His favorite beverage is the mango and strawberry blended beverage. He said while he loves coffee, he also loves the refreshing taste of mango and strawberry.

Dev, a two-year and two-month veteran who says her coffee journey has been mind-opening, says the title of barista champion should be bestowed upon her because her passion for coffee goes beyond that of others. And she would love to explore many more ways of being a better “Starbuckian” and coffee master.

Her favorite beverage is the shaken matcha green tea lemonade with coconut. It’s a drink she said is not only healthy, but tastes awesome, and is refreshing with a hint of caffeine for a boost.

Lando, the four-year veteran in the competition, boldly states he’s the best and that his coffee passion and skills are second to none, and as such he should be the 2019 Starbucks barista champ.

“It’s time that the true king wears the crown,” said Lando.

His favorite beverage is a triple shot of espresso because it’s bold and intense – and gets the job done, which he said sounds like a description of himself.

Stubbs, a one-year and five-month employee, said she should win the title because she’s passionate about being a barista, sharing her knowledge and learning more.

Currently she says her favorite beverage is an iced shaken mango passion tea lemonade, owing to it being sweet and refreshing.

Whyms, a one-year and three-month employee, said he wants to be champion because he feels it’s a risk he could take.

“As Drake said it, ‘Yolo’ – you only live once – so I want to try my hand at as much as possible. If I fail I’ll get back up and try again; but if I win that’ll be great.”

His favorite beverage is a Chai tea lemonade. He doesn’t casually drink coffee, but when he does it has to be Pike Place, a signature medium-roast with a smooth, balanced and rich flavor.

The winner will join an exclusive club that includes outgoing champion in Shawnell Clarke, who will forever hold the distinction of being the first Bahamian female Starbucks barista champion and who won her title in another historic feat, overcoming a three-way tie. Clarke won a one-week all-expense paid trip to Costa Rica to visit Starbuck’s largest coffee farm at Hacienda Alsacia, which spans more than 370 city blocks and is the first coffee farm Starbucks has owned in its more than 40-year history.

In Costa Rica, Clarke again made history as the first Bahamian barista to win a title at the regional level, when she won the latte art competition.

Prior to Clarke’s win, Tariq Cartwright (2017-2018) 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’s (2016-2017) experience was had in Bogota, Colombia, at the second annual Latin America and Caribbean Starbucks Barista Championships.

Steven Hepburn (2015-2016) set the pace as the first barista to claim the title. His experience included a Seattle trip 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.

Shavaughn Moss

Lifestyles Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Shavaughn Mossjoined The Nassau Guardianas a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor.Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.
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