*Pictured is the Radisson Hotel Group Barista Championship winner Abongile Mani and the second place winner, Shadrack Maimane

After months of intensive training, two regional competitions and a grand finale, Abongile Mani from Radisson RED Cape Town has been named the Radisson Hotel Group’s Barista Champion.

The competition saw the following four finalists compete for the Radisson Hotel Group Barista Championship title:

  • Sydney Kapa from Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence in Cape Town
  • Abongile Mani from Radisson RED in Cape Town
  • Bongani Zinto from Radisson Blu Gautrain in Johannesburg
  • Shadrack Maimane from Radisson Blu Gautrain in Johannesburg

The competition is in its first year and saw each of the 11 Radisson Hotel Group properties in South Africa nominate two staff members from their food and drinks team to become trained baristas. They each underwent intense theoretical and practical training provided by Hausbrandt via their new Zanetti Academy.

“We believe in providing our guests with the most memorable experience possible in our hotels and with the growing coffee and tea culture, it is imperative that we serve the best hot beverages. As we understand that this not only requires the best product, it very importantly means, the best skill and technique to brew to perfection and also serve each cup with a vibrant attitude,” said Craig Carmichael, Area Chef and Procurement Director, Africa & Indian Ocean, Radisson Hotel Group. “To do so, we partnered with Hausbrandt who tailor-made an extensive six-month course to train our staff to become tea and coffee connoisseurs.”

Barista Championship finalist Sydney Kapa explaining the coffee process to the judges

“As we want to leverage this unique opportunity to upskill our staff even further, we decided to progress the training into a competition which was split into two regional competitions held in Cape Town and Johannesburg to find our top four contenders. With the grand prize consisting of a trip to Italy to undergo a week-long training with Hausbrandt Internationals’ ambassadors and team, the aim of the overall champion is not only to incentivize their hard work but to even further upskill our team. Upon the winners return, they would need to roll out the training they received and cross-train their colleagues in the Radisson Hotel Group network across Africa,” said Craig.

During the finale, each candidate had to create an espresso, cappuccino and a signature drink using coffee as an inspiration. They were judged on numerous elements, such as their skill, technique and knowledge, by an expert judging panel comprising Winston Thomas (2018 South African Barista Champion), Trevor Fitz (2017 Gauteng Barista Champion), Lessing Msimanga (2017 Gauteng Sensory Judge), and Innocent Rangani Chakanyuka (coffee specialist and 2014 Western Cape Barista Champion).

“I am incredibly proud of Abongile and the full team! The skill and knowledge they have obtained through this training is remarkable and we can already see the positivity through the guest reviews. Plans are currently underway to roll this out across Africa and ensure that it becomes an annual event as we strive for our hotels to become synonymous with the best coffee and tea experience.”

Abongile Mani, the 2018 Radisson Hotel Group Barista Champion