By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
AFTER winning a local competition and placing in the top three of the regional contest stage, local Starbucks barista Shanyhah Bowe has returned home from Costa Rica enriched with an even greater appreciation for coffee.
As the Bahamas’ champion, Shanyhah competed against Starbucks baristas across Latin America and the Caribbean at the final LAC Barista Championship, with the hope of being crowned the top barista in the region. Out of 21 competitors, she placed in the top three.
The LAC Barista Championship Final took place last month at the Hacienda Alsacia Starbucks coffee farm and global agronomy headquarters, located on the slopes of Poás Volcano, less than one hour away from Costa Rica’s capital of San Jose.
After three days of competition, where baristas displayed their skills and artistry through multiple rounds of exciting coffee challenges – including espresso shot pulling, milk steaming, latte art and beverage innovation – an Argentinian barista earned the prestigious title of Starbuck LAC Barista Champion.
Although Shanyhah did not snag the victory, she left Costa Rica feeling nothing short of accomplished and enriched.
“Costa Rica was an amazing experience for me. I met amazing barista champions from all around the Latin American region. Costa Rica opened my eyes to have a better appreciation for coffee. It was not just about the competition; it was more so about expanding my coffee knowledge,” she said.
“Competing in Costa Rica made me aware of the steps to how we get the coffee beans that we serve in Starbucks today. My favourite portion of the entire competition was being able to plant a coffee tree at the Starbucks farm Hacienda Alsacia. This tree will begin to harvest within the next two to three years, so I am definitely looking forward to visiting Costa Rica again to witness my tree bearing fruit.”
In preparation for the competition, Shanyhah said she watched YouTube videos trying to grasp the concept of doing latte art.
“I got advice from my fellow baristas who listened to my action plan and made suggestions or applauded me based on what I intended to do on competition day,” she said.
“For the competition, latte art was the deciding factor for the finals. Latte art is my area of (weakness), so I already knew that I might’ve lost points due to this. For the competition rounds I decided to attempt a heart. That went better than I expected. The remaining part of the competition was geared towards storytelling.”
Shanyhah said she felt proud of herself for the way she represented Starbucks Bahamas at the competition.
“I displayed my personality, kept the crowd involved, and told my story. The main aspect of the competition was centered around storytelling,” she said.
“This competition has brought out a side of me that I didn’t even know existed. It has increased my love for public speaking, more specifically giving impromptu speeches. Throughout my performance in the competition many persons came to me stating how I flawlessly executed my presentations effortlessly.”
Shanyhah said she is now looking forward to educating fellow baristas and customers about what she has learned.
“Everything that I learned in Costa Rica I intend to share with my baristas here in the Bahamas. I want to bring positive change to our stores to ensure that we are upholding the Starbucks mission and vision statement, which is to ‘to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.’ I want to be the best barista champion that Starbucks Bahamas has ever had,” she said.
“I want to implement a few initiatives into our stores to increase latte art capabilities and coffee tastings. Additionally, I want to ensure that coffee knowledge is taken place in all of our stores so that we can give our customers a better experience by ensuring that we are able to tell them more details about coffee. I believe that if you’re selling something you must be able to talk about what you’re selling. I want to continue to expand my knowledge and be a good representative for Starbucks Bahamas,” she said.
Based at the Palmdale Starbucks store, Shanyhah was declared the national champion in September after smashing through the regional stages.
She first started working at Starbucks Bahamas in 2019 and her favourite beverage is a tall oat milk four pumps white mocha with one pump of mocha, no whip cream.
“I think the Barista Championship is important because partners from all around the market can look forward to showcasing their talent and become eager to one day hold this title. Persons who are not in the company may perhaps want to join the company once they see how many opportunities Starbucks has to offer,” she said.
“It was an honour to share my story in front of family, friends, and partners. Sharing my story also allowed me to share my coffee knowledge with others, so that in itself was my favourite portion.”
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