Thursday, January 17, 2013

Professional Competition Promotes Learning and Camaraderie

Our representative to the PNBC 2013: Junior Barista, Elmer Umali

* We have 15 days to go before the first ever Philippine National Barista Championship and we're very very nervous! 

The first barista competition I've watched was way back in 2007 during the First Philippine Coffee Forum. That was the Philippine Barista Cup where I saw professional baristas in action. I even took videos of them making their signature beverages. Since then, I always dreamed of joining one myself because I enjoy performing and serving people food and drinks.  

In 2009, my baristas and I were preparing for a competition but failed to do so due to late registration. The following year, three CAnton baristas (Ramhil Malabanan, Neil Rebua, and myself) were able to join the PBC 2010 at WOFEX, thanks to our supplier, Wilma Serrano of Equilibrium. It was during that time when I met most of the baristas and coffee industry people I know today. Most notable were Vanessa Caceres, Lanz Mirondo, Chester Nimer of Bo's Coffee, Marlon Gomez of Chocolate Fire, Christian Alvarez, Lerry Tagle, and the talented female duo of UCC, Arlene and Elena. 

I remember after the competition, Lanz approached our group and offered to coach us for another competition called the Philippine Grand Barista Cup or GBC of Allegro Beverage Corp. After a week of training with Lanz, two CAnton baristas (Neil Rebua and I) joined the GBC eliminations. Of course we didn't get to the next round but we were all so grateful for the experience and all the people we met like Joefel Manlod, Andy Luyugoy, Jay Murillo, Crissan Cristobal, Paul Asuncion and many others. During the semis and the finals round we were always there to support our new friends.

After these competitions, CAnton organized three Barista and Latte Art Jams in Los Banos, where we invited all the new friends we made from the competitions and also others we only see on Facebook like Lucky Salvador and Michael Cabilao. Nakaka-miss! 

In 2011, we returned to compete in the PBC at WOFEX. This time with our new barista, Ian Soliven. Armed with experience and new coffee knowledge, CAnton was able to get through the elims and to the next round. This was where we met Larry Andrada.

And now, after an inactive and "competition-less" 2012 for the cafe, we're training once again for another competition, this time with Elena Tence and 18 Days Coffee Roaster helping us out. The goal here is to enjoy and relish the experience. Training for competitions is also a form of professional career development for our staff, it builds their confidence and sharpens their minds and technical skills. Para kasing kulang ang barista experience mo pag di pa nakakasali ng competition, the feeling is so surreal, it's like having your own concert! 

We're looking forward to February 1 and we're praying for everybody, that everyone of us will be able to do our best and put on a good show. The PNBC 2013 itself is already a victory for the Philippine coffee industry! Kudos to the AFBI (Association of Filipino Baristas Inc.) team: May Juan, JC Martinez, and Dimps Reytas for organizing this, and also to Espresso World for coordinating this wonderful event! 

Mabuhay ang mga baristang Pilipino! :)

The 15 participating baristas for the PNBC 2013 together with the AFBI staff and Allegro staff

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