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Union Barista Championships

It's time! This Friday, November 22nd it all goes down at our roastery. 

Come out and support your favorite Barista at the 2013 Union Barista Championship. See who wins the tittle and the glory (along with some great prizes).




Every year the cream of the UK's barista talent compete to win a place at the World Barista Championship. In previous years the UK has produced world champions...could you be at the start of your journey to the top?

As you know, our coffee obsession extends right to the end cup, and importantly places a great focus on the knowledge and role of the barista.


This years competitors are:

Armando Moreno Jr- Urban Ground

Damian Winnicki- Medlar

Karolina Ratajczak- Legends of  Grandtully Cafe

Jana Slamova- GE Capital/ Baxter Story

Adrian Bytniewski- Urban Coffee Company

Rytis Delekas- Cottons Centre/ Gather & Gather

Rob Ward- New Row Coffee

Alex Sargeant- Strangers Coffee

Shopon Mahbubul- Cafe 8 MAcquarie Bank/ Compass Group

Tereza Vertatova- Knot Pretzel

Isaac Rivadulla- Green & Fortune Cafe


The competitors are required to prepare 2 espressos, 2 cappuccinos and 2 signature drinks of choice in 10 minute time limit.The signature drink can contain any other ingredient e.g. fruit, syrups, chocolate but no alcohol.



The top 3 baristas will receive a selection of specialist brewing equipment, barista goodies and a Roastmaster subscription. We would also love to nurture and mentor any entrants who want to enter the UKBC for next year. 


We will be judging the competition to UK Barista Championships standards, so it will be exacting but also fun!

Get inspired, some signature drink ideas and take a look at the UK's national Barista Championship's here.


Good Luck to our Competitors!


Gails Bakery Barista Championships

Gails Bakery Barista Competition comp


Gails Bakery are proud of serving our coffee in their stores and are raising the coffee bar through their annual barista competition.

This year teams from 15 shops competed to gain the title of Gail’s Barista Champion 2013.The competition is broken down into two rounds during which sensory judges evaluated the taste and presentation of served beverages: an iced latte, a flat white and an espresso.

They had 5 minutes to craft these drinks.

3 shops made it through to the final round where again they are create the required

drink serves and also answer coffee related theoretical questions as well.


Gails Bakery Barista Competition Judging


Gail’s organised a Barista Championship for the first time in 2009 to excite their coffee making crew and to raise the standard of coffee service in their stores. As their coffee roaster, we have been running the event every year challenging their team to reach ever higher standards.

The event is a mixture of creative fun and energy, exhibited perfectly by the noise levels reached each year.

Famed for their great bakery, the event also adds in counters of delicious food and a splash of drinks other than coffee to help the proceedings flow well.


Gails Bakery Barista Competition Barview


 The winning team was from the Kings Road store, and they were presented with cheques for £200, top notch barista kit, and certificates by Jeremy Torz.

Gails Bakery Barista Competition Winners







broaden horizons, have a coffee affair

Located under some of Londons many railway arches lies Coffee Affair.
A labour of love balancing anxious commuting customers with local artisans.

Read more about their coffee journey.


Coffee Affair



Brighton: traditional fish and chips, end of the pier fairground rides, candy floss and some of the best coffee in the South East, courtesy of indepedent coffee haven, Ground. Mojo S on Qype states simply: "The best coffee in Brighton, period!".
So we chatted to the owners to see what makes them tick and their coffee philosophy.

Ground Kemptown, Brighton

Ground (Kemptown) 36 St Georges Rd, BN2 1ED pictured
Ground (Hove) 84 Church Rd, BN3 2EB


1.    What do you love most about your job?
I love working for myself and having access to a plethora of coffee paraphernalia right behind the counter.  I also love it when our enthusiasm for well-sourced, well-prepared coffee spreads to our customers, especially the ones who never before cared much about such things.


2.    …And loathe the most?!
Not having enough time to further my training.  Working for yourself is very demanding and sometimes progress is slow going.  Very difficult for impatient people like me!


3.    Time in the industry, and why coffee?
I’ve been in coffee specifically for about three years now, but I’ve been in charge of coffee programmes at various restaurants I’ve worked in for about 10 years.  This is actually quite embarrassing because I now realise that I had no idea what I was doing.


4.    Favourite coffee? (Region/blend etc)
Lately, my favourite coffees have been coming from Central America.  In particular, the Los Lajones from Graciano Cruz in Panama has been spectacular as an AeroPress.  I recently splashed out for 250g of the La Esperanza geisha microlot from Rigoberto Herrera, which was out of this world.


5.    You’re in a very competitive area, how do you attract customers, and then retain them – with the lure of the high street chains ever present?
Simply put, we try to outperform the competition at every level – customer service, atmosphere and the finest tea and coffee.  High street brands simply can’t compete along these lines, preferring to keep a lazy customer base of people who want something predictable even if it’s mediocre.   By contrast try to wow our customers out of this type of complacence, which often stimulates a new interest in speciality coffee.


6.    Biggest business challenge at the moment?
Our biggest challenge is finding the time to optimise our training programmes, both for ourselves and for our deserving staff.  However, I’ve just finished an instructor development programme from the SCAA that will help in this regard.  Also, the training team at Union are in top form so we will definitely be taking advantage of their expertise, as well.


7.    Who is your most famous customer? OR who would you most love to serve?
There is an eclectic cross-section of celebs who frequent both of our shops but in the interest of discretion we don’t like to name them.  However, I would very much like for Werner Herzog to come by for a coffee and a chat if you can arrange it!


8.    Filter or espresso? – and why?!
I like espresso on work days and filters at home or on the weekends.  A lovely, unctuous espresso is really difficult to resist when pulling shots at work but the range of blends and single origins is limited to the number of grinders that are available.  With filters, it’s like travelling the world in a cup, and we can easily and practically explore more options since it’s fairly easy to use the same grinder for different coffees. 


9.    Is there a particular coffee which sells better than others?
The Bright Note blend has been extremely popular with our customers, who continually insist that we must be ‘putting something in our coffee’ to make it taste so good.  The Abahuzamugambi Ba Kawa, from Rwanda, was popular with both staff and customers as a filter.  Both of these coffees are quite rich and satisfying.  Lately, the Los Lajones from Panama is hitting the spot, as is the Harrar Sundried from Ethiopia.  I think it takes a bit of time and effort to help people to understand and appreciate the differences between coffee types and regions, as well as production methods and roasting profiles.  It would be great if Union were to establish a ‘diploma’ course that covered these topics because it would definitely help all of us on the front line.


10.    What slogan / strapline would be on your advertising campaign?
‘The taste of real coffee’ – but we might add that we’re pretty tasty overall.  


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Urban Ground is Eastbourne's finest independent coffee shop.

Urban Ground store

Thats their words, not ours. But we have to say that they're not far off the mark with their claim.
Having tasted 'more coffee than they want to remember' as research into their house blend, they settled on our Revelation espresso blend.

As well doing the coffee justice, they bake their own cakes - old favourites like Victoria Sponge and Chocolate Brownies - and some unique hand-crafted delights like their Lemon Polenta cake.

Owners Andy and Michele tell us their innermost...

1.       What do you love most about your job?
As we are so new, this has got to be when we get a customer who is unsure to start with and then absolutely loves our coffee, food,service and style. After that it's when they come back with friends.

2.       …And loathe the most?!
Business rates, permits and licences!!

3.       Time in the industry, and why coffee?
I have been in catering and hospitality throughout my life, mainly in the back of house as a chef, so when the accidental opportunity arose to operate a coffee franchise in a railway station it was an unlikely move. However a new passion for coffee was ignited and being customer facing was quite enjoyable. So now we are independent and after looking all over for great coffee, we found it with Union and have not looked back since.

4.       Favourite coffee?
We love Revelation and to most of our customers it is a revelation after all the average coffee that they are served elsewhere! Our filter is from Rwanda and is proving  popular with it's rounded, fruity and clean flavour.

5.       You’re in a very competitive area, how do you attract customers, and then retain them – with the lure of the high street chains ever present?
All the chains are on our doorstep so we compete by being different. Our core values are to offer excellent food and drink with outstanding customer service. Customers are choosier where they spend both their time and money, more now than ever and by embracing that and treating them with respect and greeting them with a smile will help us to see them more regularly. Communication via conversation seems to be a dying art in the modern retail world and we are taking it back to how it should be.

6.       Biggest business challenge at the moment?
Finding the right staff. Although we have a good team at the moment, recruiting is not my favorite pastime.

7.       Who is your most famous customer? OR who would you most love to serve?
Given the chance, it would have been wonderful to serve the legend that was Gil Scott Heron, and sit and discuss life's great questions...

8.       Filter or espresso? – and why?!
This is I a tough choice as I love both at different times of the day.

9.       Is there a particular coffee which sells better than others?
We are only offering Revelation and the decaf blend for our espresso based drinks, but when customers hear that we have whole bean decaf they are pleasantly surprised and comment how much more flavour it has to what they are usually served. The most popular drinks are lattes and Caps but Flat Whites are becoming more popular with our customers who enjoy milk with their coffee but still want to taste it. We also serve a small cap in a 5/6oz cup which is gaining a solid following. We are planning to offer a guest filter coffee in the near future.

10.   What slogan / strapline would be on your advertising campaign?
Finest Independent Coffee Shop in Eastbourne!!!

Urban Ground, 
2A Bolton Road,
BN21 3JX