Top six baristas in Port Elizabeth: Make sure your next cup is prepared by the Bay’s finest

BY CHARL BOSCH - FEBRUARY 6, 2015

Early last year, the Speciality Coffee Association of Southern Africa’s (SCASA), in conjunction with the Ciro Coffee Academy, hosted the national barista championships in Johannesburg, with the Eastern Cape being represented by the top six baristas who triumphed during the regional leg of the competition.

Despite the eventual winner, chosen to represent South Africa at the world champions in Seattle, Washington later this year being from Johannesburg, the Eastern Cape’s top candidates wowed the international judges with their unique brews and attention to details.

In light of this acclaim, Home, Food and Travel honours the top six who not only proudly represented the Eastern Cape, but are also the undoubted kings of coffee.

 

  1. Byron Keet – Urban Espress Coffee Co.

Rated as the top barista in the province, who finished 10th overall during the nationals and also walked away as the best performer in the Latte Art’s division, which will see him represent South Africa at the World Latte Art Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden during June this year, 21 year-old Keet made headlines in 2013 after being announced as the seventh best barista in South Africa, despite having only had nine month’s experience.

“He has an excellent palette and also took top prize for the best overall impression during the regional stages of the competition,” said Angeline McLagan, Senior Barista trainer for the Ciro Coffee Academy.

Aside from his achievements at national level, Keet has gone on to serve as barista trainer for food giant, Famous Brands, having been Head Barista and Trainer at Urban Espress Coffee Co.

 

  1. Mike Chizeya – TriBeCa Coffee Co / Woolworths

Described as a barista veteran, who previously won the regional Latte Art’s division twice, 33-year old Chizeya’s second place finish amongst the Eastern Cape contenders at the 2014 nationals, also netted him fourth place overall in the Latte Art division behind eventual winner Keet.

“He has a great knowledge of coffee and does phenomenal Latte Art,” McLagan said of Chizeya, who currently works as barista trainer for the TriBeCa Coffee Co and Woolworths Eastern Cape.


  1. Sisa Mapetu – Hand Made Coffees

Hailing from Grahamstown and reported to have poured around 5 000 cups during the 2014 National Arts Festival, Mapetu completed a barista course in 2010 and was instantly drawn to the art of making coffee. Known for his exceptional espresso craft, the 28-year head barista of the campus based coffee house, Hand Made Coffees, unsurprisingly took home the prize for best espresso during the competition’s regional stages last year.

“He is truly passionate, incredibly charming and puts a lot of effort and love into his coffee making,” said McLagen.


  1. Luyanda Gxukuma – Radisson Blu

Touted as a star barista in the making, 24-year Gxukuma had only been applying his trade at the Radisson Blu for two years, but impressed during the nationals with his combination of talent and versatility.

“He has shown incredible flair not only with coffee but also with cocktails, and absolutely wowed the judges with his coffee skills, knowledge and confidence,” described McLagen.

 

  1. Lennox Soul – TriBeCa Coffee Co / Woolworths

Along with Chizeya, 24-year old Soul has been taking part in the competition since its 2010 inception and placed seventh overall during the national semi-final stages in 2013.

“He is a quiet, gentle person when you first meet him, but an absolute monster behind the machine. He is absolutely amazing,” McLagen stated.

 

  1. Lizo Songwiqi – Sun International Boardwalk Hotel

The youngest of the Eastern Cape’s top six contenders and tipped as another future barista star, 22-year old Songwiqi made considerable waves when he finished the regional leg of the competition in sixth place, his first attempt at the competition, and having only been a barista since 2013.