February 2013: It’s been proven yet again – Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! really is the hottest place in town. Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Melrose Arch barista Tebatso Magongoa pulled a few marvellous espressos but absolutely no punches to take the title of best barista in the country in a competition for Protea Hotels and African Pride Hotels baristas from all over South Africa.
The group has some 90 properties around South Africa and serves more than six million cups of coffee a year.
Baristas from around the country competed in regional finals after months of training that was conducted around the group to improve the skills of the hotels’ brew masters. The regional finals took place in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. The regional winners were:
• 1st place: Malusi Hlongwa, Protea Hotel Hilton;
• 2nd place: Bongani Mvange, Protea Hotel Hilton
• 3rd place: Chris Stander, Protea Hotel Karridene
• 1st place: Rolandi Thuenissen, Arabella Hotel & Spa (an African Pride Hotel)
• 2nd place: Xolani Phillips, Protea Hotel Marine
• 3rd place: Ibteshaam Daniels, Protea Hotel North Wharf
• 1st place: Tebatso Magongoa, Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Melrose Arch (also the national winner)
• 2nd place: Fikile Gatsha Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Melrose Arch
• 3rd place: Thabiso Masuku, African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel
The nine regional finalists also will be entered into the Speciality Coffee Association of Southern Africa regional competitions this year.
Protea Hospitality Group Director of Sales, Marketing and Revenue, Danny Bryer, says South Africa has a strong coffee culture and consumers are more discerning and knowledgeable about their favourite brew as a result of the coffee offering in both the retail and home environment.
“If you break it down to the fundamentals we’re in the business of beds, pillows, coffee and breakfast, so getting it wrong is not an option.
“We’re investing in ongoing training for our baristas to ensure that they’re at the top of their profession and that our offering is the best in South African hospitality. This is our minimum brand standard requirement for our hotels,” says Bryer.
Tebatso Magongoa was first introduced to the art of coffee in May 2011. Whilst studying his diploma in business management, which he completed last year, he was sponsored to attend the Ciro Coffee Academy and undergo coffee training. Tebatso joined the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Melrose Arch as a barista late 2012. He says he is looking forward to competing in other competitions, but his ultimate aim is to one day become General Manager of his own hotel.
Bryer offered congratulations to all the winners, and also to Ciro for partnering in this initiative. “The role that Ciro and its training TEAM played in educating, supporting and coaching our STAFF has been exceptional and we’re already seeing the results of that, if the high standard presented in this competition is anything to go by.”