The Road to UKBC 2014- Adrian Bytniewski

Before this week’s UKBC Superheat, we caught up with another UKBC newcomer to find out about his journey to this year’s competition.

Meet Adrian Bytniewski

Adrian 23, is from Poland and worked as a bartender and then as a chef until his friend introduced him to great coffee. Since then Adrian says ” I just got addicted to it”.

Adrian decided to enter this year’s competition after his friend showed him the World Barista Championship videos on Youtube.

“After watching some videos, I started to look for something like that in UK. For me this competition is an amazing chance to learn and meet new people in the industry, I think that made me enter the UKBC this year.”

Adrian got his first taste of the world of barista competitions at the 2013 Union Barista Championship. He enjoyed the competition and it gave him the confidence to enter UKBC.

Having worked with our coffee for the last 20 months, selecting coffee to use in the competition was quite easy.

“I always loved coffee with fruity notes, also I’m a big fan of coffee from Latin America. When I tried Los Lajones for the first time I knew that’s going to be the one to use for the UKBC.

Adrian is taking the competition seriously and tries to practice everyday.

He has worked as a barista for over 2 years now and enjoys every minute on the job.

“After joining Urban Coffee Company I got a chance to get to know coffee better. I’ve started to drink more, and more different coffees, and then my ”mentor” Arthur Pach (former head barista at urban coffee) explained to me what’s important in this industry “.

In his spare time, you will probably find him reading a book, at the cinema or cooking a nice meal for friends (with a freshly brewed coffee on his aeropress).

For anyone who wants to be a barista he says,

“Listen carefully to who mentors you, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes, without them you won’t learn.”

The Road to UKBC 2014- Newcomer Jana Slamova

Once again we are sponsors of this year’s UK Barista Championships (UKBC) and the UKBC Newcomer Award. This year we decided to follow some newcomers to the competition.

Meet Jana Slamova

Jana is entering the UKBC competition for the first time. We got in touch with her to find out a little about her and her journey to UKBC.

Jana will be competing with Don Altizo, also from BaxterStorey. Don placed in the top 6 of the 2013 UKBC.  After trying several coffees, she has decided to use  our Fazendas Bobolink, Natural, the coffee that won her our barista competition last year.

“It really is one of the best I have tried, and I am excited to compete with it because I feel like I know it well.”

Training for the competition is intense as she gets one or two days per week in the BaxterStory Barista Academy in central London.

Jana says “I am always thinking about my routine and my signature drink.”

Jana 26, comes from a diverse creative background. Before moving to London, she worked as a dance and fitness instructor in her home country; Czech republic. So how did she then develop her love for the coffee world?

Getting started in coffee

Amazingly, Jana was not a coffee drinker before moving to London, but now she enjoys her favourite coffee drink; a flat white.

Her first job in the UK was working at Gail’s Artisan Bakery. During her time there she developed her passion for good coffee.

 ” The first job I had in London was with Gail’s, they were using Union Hand-Roasted Coffee and they provided great training that really inspired me to learn more.”

Jana has only worked as a barista for 2 years but her skills have developed quickly, making her a valuable employee at her current job with BaxterStorey.  She enjoys this role because they are passionate about coffee and also have their own barista academy which is unusual in contract catering.

We asked Jana for the advice she would give anyone who wants to become a barista her response was,

“Love coffee. Be willing to learn and if they aren’t teaching you, find a job where they will. Being a great barista takes skill, I didn’t know that when I started….”

Training on the job

In her spare time Jana is still involved with dance, but is really enjoying learning about coffee.

“I am in the BaxterStorey Coffee Specialist program, which is an 18-month development program.  At the end of it, I will be a certified “coffee geek” with a Coffee Diploma from the SCAE. This is cool because it is also the same qualification I can achieve back home in the Czech Republic.”

Last year,  Jana was asked to compete at UKBC by the Head of the Barista Academy, Tim Sturk but was too scared. This year, she feels a lot more confident which she attributes to Tim who saw great potential in her and was persistent.

“He was impressed by my skills and desire to learn more and to be better.  He convinced me to compete.”

Rising star

In November 2013, Jana entered our Barista Competition.

“This was my first taste of a coffee competition and I won it! Initially, I think Tim wanted to enter a few baristas from BaxterStorey but we were only allowed one barista per company. He asked me because my managers were very supportive and keen for me to compete.  I still can’t believe I won; someone saw this potential in me that I didn’t see.”

Jana’s signature drink for Union Hand Roasted Barista Championship: a delicious combination of organic dark morello cherry compote, Fazendas Bobolink espresso and double cream.



Discover the beans: Mama Dalia, Natural, Pacamara, El Salvador

Maricela Elizabeth Ochoa de Valdivieso runs a very special farm. Although their output is small, just a few bags of beans each season, they focus meticulously at each stage of production.

All the grandchildren called their grandmother Mama Dalia, and when Maricela inherited the farm from her, she renamed it in her memory. Maricela lives on the farm with her husband, Javier and four children. She has been growing coffee for four seasons; producing Bourbon and some Pacamara varietals.

The soil of the farm is extremely rich in organic material which supports the coffee that is grown under shade-trees; most are leguminosae of various species and also  Cyprus, Tangerine and Plantain. The farm employs 8 men and 2 female full-time workers.

All the coffee is produced as Honey process which means that during milling, the mucilage from the pulpy fruit is retained and dries to produce a sticky honey residue on the bean. This contributes fabulous sweetness to the cup which results in this wonderfully sweet and fruited coffee.


How to serve

As an espresso: very juicy and syrupy, has red berry coulis notes with silky milk chocolate notes finish.

With milk: we recommend it as a Macchiato, Piccolo, Flat White (between 3-5oz). Has notes of ripe cherry jammie dodger, hint of cocoa powder and caramel.

Served as a filter: starts with winey red apple, followed by kiwi and toffee notes. Syrupy body. Clean and mouth-watering finish.

Reminds us of

Discover the beans

Mama Dalia, Natural, Pacamara, El Salvador

Beautifully balanced tart blackcurrant against sweet mango-like flavours. Depth is from base notes of milk chocolate with a long syrupy sweet mouthfeel.

Varietal – Pacamara

Process – Honey

Coffee and Cycling – Spin X LCF Xmas

Cementing the longstanding relationship between cycling and coffee, just in time for the festive season, Spin X LCF Xmas is a collaboration between the organisers of Spin London, The Urban Cycle Show and the team behind The London Coffee Festival on the 29th November to the 1st December.

Come down to Spin X LCF

We’re going to be at the event doing brew demos, sampling and taking orders for Christmas gifts. Grab some microlots or sign up someone for our Roastmaster, with specially selected beans (whole or ground to your needs) delivered monthly to your door. The organisers have signed up some amazing international brands and smaller independent makers to showcase their wares, with everything from cycling fashion and handmade frames, accessories and cycle-wear, to beans, brewers, grinders and espresso machines.


Why we love bicycles

Here at Union we’re longstanding fans of the not-so-humble bicycle, for a special reason: we understand the difference it makes to our producers when we help them to get credit to buy a bike. We’ve seen how farmers benefitted directly with the Coffee Bike program in Rwanda. 1,000 specially designed bicycles were distributed to selected coffee farmers in 4 cooperatives.

The Coffee Bike Project

Rwanda is blessed with the ideal condition;  high altitude and rich soils perfect for producing speciality coffee.  Rwanda the “land of 1000 hills” – has very steep inclines making carrying heavy loads of freshly harvested coffee cherries for several hours over long distances very difficult. To reduce transport time and increase coffee quality, renowned mountain bike designer, Tom Ritchey, the father of the Mountain Bike, worked on a new ‘cargo’ bike design for developing countries. “Project Rwanda” was created, to manufacture and distribute an inexpensive but high-performance cargo mountain bike designed to carry heavy loads of up to 200kg of freshly harvested coffee cherries, over difficult terrain.

Better quality coffee

The bike coffees yielded 3.5 SCAA quality points higher than non-bike coffee at the Maraba washing station, supporting other research experiments on the effect of cherry transport times on coffee quality. This higher quality enabled farmers to produce more high quality coffee, and receive up 20% more for this crop. The cooperatives set up a micro credit system to give the farmers the credit they needed to buy the coffee bike. Farmers agreed to pay the loan and agreed to bring their cherries by 3PM to the washing stations.

Many producers live far away from their cooperatives so having a bike can mean cutting their travel time from hours to minutes, and no more carrying heavy sacks of beans. It also means the beans are delivered in better condition and so gain a better price. Coffee-bike coffee was kept separate from other coffee and evaluated for quality and sold on its own quality merits which means better coffee for us, and again, better prices for the producers. They gain more independence as they can take the beans to the mill the moment they are ready, rather than having to walk.  All in all, the bicycle can be one of the farm’s most important tools.

Competition time

We’re running our Daily Draw during every day of Spin, to win some great goodies from the lovely folks at Chapeau.

We’ve hand-picked delicious coffees to taste and buy, and don’t forget that everyone who buys a 6 month Roastmaster subscription will go into the prize draw to win a Mahlkonig Vario Grinder. We’ll have some very special microlots on taste too, come and ask us to try.

So, on your bike, and we’ll see you at the show!