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Thailand Barista Champion to compete in 1st Asia Barista Championship at FHA2008

Thailand Barista Champion, Ms. Sirithai Rungjanthuek, will pit her skills with professional baristas from all over the Asia-Pacific region at the Asia Barista Championship, held in conjunction at FHA2008 (Food&HotelAsia2008) from 22nd to 24th April 2008 at the Singapore Expo.

Thailand’s domestic coffee market has been steadily growing in recent years, with its market share forecast to exceed 25 billion baht, up 6.7 percent year on year. This has spurred more coffee houses being established across Thailand.

Ms. Rungjanthuek began her Barista career when she joined S&P Blue Cup as their Barista in 2004. With over four years of hard work, continuous training and most importantly a steadfast passion for coffee, she is currently Thailand’s reigning Barista Champion for two years consecutively in 2007 and 2008, and has participated in the prestigious World Barista Championship held in Japan in 2007.

“I am honoured to represent Thailand in the first Asia Barista Championship held in Singapore at Food&HotelAsia2008 this month, and I have been practicing intensely to improve my skills in preparation for the championship. I believe that the Championship is an important competition that will help raise the barista profession to the level of recognition it deserves, and I hope it will help differentiate us, as professional baristas, from people who just make coffee,” said Ms. Sirithai Rungjanthuek, Thailand’s representative for the Asia Barista Championship at FHA2008.

Ms. Rungjanthuek is a member of the Barista Association of Thailand (BAT), one of several international associations to endorse the Asia Barista Championship. The BAT was formed in 2005 by a group of barista trainers and baristas to disseminate the understanding and knowledge of the profession, and further develop the skills of Thai baristas to meet international standards. It also serves as a coordinating and information-exchange centre between members and international organisations as well as a common platform for members to engage and exchange ideas and experience.

“The FHA2008 exhibition serves as an excellent stage for companies from the coffee industry to promote their coffee products and services in the region. The first annual Asia Barista Championship hosted by FHA2008 in Singapore this year should be an exciting event. Not only will competitors acquire invaluable experience competing against Asia’s best, they will also have an opportunity to learn and develop new coffee preparation skills. Visitors will cultivate a deeper awareness of specialty coffees and gain insight into the barista profession. We are excited with Sirithai’s upcoming participation in the Championship. With the experience gained from several international competitions under her belt, I am confident that she will do well,” said Mr. Meechai Amornpathanakul, President of the Barista Association of Thailand.

Asia Barista Championship 2008
For the first time in Asia, a competition between Asia’s best coffee barista professionals will be held at an Asian level. 11 participants from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand will congregate on one competition ground to compete for the title of “Asia Barista Champion”.

This group of national champions will be judged by an esteemed panel of experienced international judges, including Mr. Christopher Short from Cafetto Australia; Mr. Meechai Amornpathanakul from the Barista Association of Thailand; Ms. Tuti H. Mochtar from the Specialty Coffee Association of Indonesia; Mr. Joe Hsu from Taiwan; Mr. Andrew Hetzel from CafeMakers; Mr. Jeffrey Dutton from Da Vinci Gourmet Australia; Mr. Richard Barkauskas from Hamilton Beach. The judges are grouped into the following teams: Four Sensory Judges, Two Technical Judges and One Head Judge.

During the Championship, each competitor will be required to serve each of the Four Sensory Judges, a single expresso, a single cappuccino and a single blended signature beverage of his/her choice, for a total of 12 drinks during the period of 15 minutes or less. Although four drinks of each category must be identical and served simultaneously, the competitor is not restricted to produce different latte art for the drinks prepared.

The quality of the latte art will be taken into consideration for the “Best Latte Art Competition”. Competitors will be judged based on the following criteria – Competition Area, Taste Evaluation, Beverage Presentation, Technical Skills and Judges Total Impression. Other awards in the Championship include the “Best Espresso Trophy” and “Best Blended Signature Beverage Trophy”.

The Asia Barista Championship is jointly organised by Singapore Exhibition Services, organiser of FHA2008; Kerry Ingredients Asia, one of the largest and most technologically advanced ingredients companies in the world producing application specific ingredients for the world’s leading food manufacturers and foodservice companies; and the Singapore Coffee Association, established to represent all sectors of the coffee industry.

La Marzocco is the exclusive sponsor of the Championship for its Expresso Coffee Machines. Other sponsors include Da Vinci Gourmet, Greenfields, Hamilton Beach Commerical, Coffex Coffee, Mahlkonig, Cafetto, and Purence. The Championship is endorsed by several international associations, such as the Barista Association of Thailand, China Coffee Association Beijing, Taiwanese Association of Specialty Coffee (T.A.S.C.), The AustralAsian Specialty Coffee Association (AASCA), The Indonesian Specialty Coffee Association of Indonesia, and the Singapore Coffee Association “Fuelled by the growth in consumer sophistication which has led to increased appreciation and preference for specialty coffee, the F&B industry in Asia has witnessed a rising interest in the Barista profession. More qualified baristas are needed to match this demand. Through the Asia Barista Championship, we hope to spearhead the growth of specialty coffee, raise the bar of the Barista professional knowledge and expertise, and cultivate closer ties within the Barista profession in Asia,” said Ms. Ting Siew Mui, Singapore Exhibition Services’ Project Director of FHA2008.
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