bartlett mitchell, one of the UK’s leading independent caterers, has today named Kristina Kirilova as the winner of its annual barista championship which was held alongside the company’s first-ever coffee carnival.

Kirilova, who works at a bartlett mitchell client site in Kent, saw off stiff competition from five other finalists to take the title of Barista Champion 2018.

Held at the Crypt in Clerkenwell, bartlett mitchell baristas from across the UK were assessed on their coffee knowledge, grinding skills, coffee machine use and milk preparation techniques.

The judges included Ricardo Alesso, Dayanna Copini, both trainers for Bewley’s, Graziano Moroni Head of Coffee for Bewley’s and UKBC Judge, and members of bartlett mitchell senior management.

The bartlett mitchell Coffee Carnival – the first of its type for the foodservice industry – brought together clients, baristas and bartlett mitchell management from across the UK to celebrate the company’s coffee ethos and showcase some of its products and values.

The company also used the carnival to launch the news that it will now sell Perkee coffeebeans online as a retail product, as well as showcasing its BMInc partnerships, where it acts as an incubator unit by enabling new, young brands to enter the foodservice industry.

Kirilova said: “I really can’t believe it. I worked so hard and I just can’t believe I managed to win. I’d like to thank all of my team and managers for supporting me throughout the competition and every day at work. This is amazing and I’m really shocked and happy.”

As part of her prize, Kirilova will be going to the Specialty Coffee Association’s (SCA), Barista Camp in Portugal for two days in September. Luis Marques, also based in Kent was awarded third prize and Maria Barrottu, based in London was awarded second prize.

Consisting of four heats, the competition assessed a broad spectrum of barista skills. The competition was structured in three stages: an espresso course, a cappuccino course, and a freestyle course that allowed competitors to present a signature drink to the judges.

There were four other award categories:

  • Best customer service: Luis Marques
  • Best milk course: Kristina Kirilova
  • Best espresso: Kristina Kirilova
  • Best signature drink: Maria Barrottu

Miguel Camara, Coffee Brands Manager and organiser of the carnival, said: “The calibre of this year’s finalists was impressive. Our baristas are going from strength to strength, learning more each year and taking inspiration from coffee and flavour trends.

“The final scores were very close. The winning competitor, Kristina Kirilova, was strong in every challenge. She demonstrated everything we look for in our baristas: passion, pride and personality.”

Ian Thomas, CEO, bartlett mitchell, added: “I am delighted at the success of our first ever coffee carnival. Serving exceptional coffee is a differentiator and crucial to building customer loyalty and increase sales. Events like this inspire our team members to want to serve better coffee every day”.