August 2014: The culture around good coffee continues to grow exponentially worldwide, and once again baristas from Protea Hotels and African Pride Hotels properties around the country have taken part in a regional competition to find the group’s finest brew masters.
National overall winner Chris Stander of the Protea Hotel, Karridene Beach, represented the KwaZulu-Natal region, where he had also triumphed by edging out fellow challenger Andile Hlope. Stander was entering the competition for a second time and has also competed in the Speciality Coffee Association of Southern Africa (SCASA) Regionals.
The regional finals were split into three zones - Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Free State drew 51 entries for the Johannesburg event; KwaZulu-Natal had 16 entries while the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape together saw 18 hopefuls go for the top honours.
- 1st place: Chris Stander, Protea Hotel Karridene Beach (national winner)
- 2nd place: Andile Hlope, Protea Hotel Karridene Beach
- 3rd place: Richard Horlock, Protea Hotel Umhlanga
- 1st place: Philane Feni, African Pride, Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa
- 2nd place: Masonwabe Mayekisa, Arabella Hotel & Spa (part of African Pride Hotels)
- 3rd place: Bongani Sibanda, Protea Hotel Fire & Ice!
- 1st place: Thabiso Masuku, African Pride, Melrose Arch Hotel
- 2nd place: Aaron Mqongozi, Protea Hotel Fire & Ice!
- 3rd place: Bongiwe Luthuli, Protea Hotel Wanderers
Protea Hospitality Group Director of Sales, Marketing and Revenue, Danny Bryer, was delighted with this year’s competition saying, “Coffee has become the world drink. It is the drink of conversation and around which ideas are shared.
“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.
Initiatives such as this barista competition afford our ‘coffee craftsmen’ an opportunity to excel.”
Bryer also congratulated the winners, and thanked the contestants, partners and judges for their enthusiasm.
“We were extremely grateful that CIRO partnered with us again this year. Their participation was instrumental in ensuring that the competition fulfilled its mandate of enhancing the skills of our baristas and providing them with a platform on which to compete.”
The contenders, many of whom happily declared that they put in extra training hours in preparation for the contest, were sourced from 80 group properties around the country. The annual competition draws over 80 hopefuls who undergo skills training in a bid to claim the coveted title.
“It was encouraging to see a number of familiar faces from last year, in addition to many new entries, all of which illustrates that they are continually refining their craft.” said Bryer. “Our baristas have stayed on trend with coffee culture globally, and that is why they excelled throughout this competition and I’m delighted to say that our Fairtrade coffee is no exception.”