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.”

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.



Most commuters couldn’t claim their station coffee was ‘worth the wait’, however at Queenstown Road in Battersea, London, Coffee Affair believe theirs is. Check into the old waiting room to see for yourself, or read on.

  1. What do you love most about your job?The challenge and the social aspect.The more we learn, the more we realize how much more there is to know! Coffee is a vast subject which may not be appreciated at the beginning. The chemistry and physics involved in the processing and brewing methods provides challenges and rewards alike. It’s good to be continually tested mentally!Socially, the shop is in a very diverse area not always obvious at first sight. Our customers include classical guitar makers, stone masons, travel writers, designers, architects, location & film crews, many businesses hidden under the railway arches. There is always an interesting discussion to be had or something new to learn.  We love it when customers get to know each other and  have a natter. It’s a great feeling of community.
  2. And loathe the most?!Unfortunately, being in a Railway Station people can be very edgy when they have a train to catch, even when there’s another one 5 minutes later. You are doing your best to craft a little masterpiece in a cup whilst some pace up & down looking at their watch! Another challenge is the amount of queries we get from non customers who march into the shop demanding their travel enquiries be answered!
  3. Time in the industry, and why coffee?Six and a half years. We fell into coffee. Leaving the office environment behind, we set about a plan including coffee and this unloved local Grade II listed station. We started the adventure together when previous work contracts were completed. I thought a year break and I’ll return to my career….but coffee slowly took over and we’ve upgraded from a Piaggio Ape in the freezing ticket hall  to a cosy coffee shop in the old ticket office.
  4. Favourite coffee?It’s not the most exciting answer perhaps, but we love our espresso blend Organic Natural Spirit made of Mexican (Chiapas Highlands), Peruvian (San Ignacio)and Ethiopian (Yirgacheffe) beans. The blend can produce the most wonderful rich espresso with a sweet lemon front, which develops into bitter sweet chocolate. Most recently in terms of drip coffee, we really love a Kenyan we had  from the Karatina Mill.
  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?We don’t compete with the high street. We are two stops from Waterloo and one stop from Clapham Junction…which are full of the chains. It would be foolish to compete with a product which is so different from ours. The ingredients and attention to detail going into each cup means our customers appreciate the time it takes to create. Most of our customers are regulars, some who have been with us since the Piaggio days. It’s a nice feeling to ask for ‘my usual please’ and know it will be carefully prepared. For those who don’t care about the difference between the Speciality Coffee Industry and the chains, we can try to engage with them and hope the coffee does the rest. Luckily enough, there are many who do care and given half the chance we will chat coffee as long as they are interested!
  6. Biggest business challenge at the moment?Being able to price the product appropriately in a very competitive market, where people often don’t fully appreciate the spectrum of costs involved. To achieve a move away from price focus to quality focus and change the notion that being a barista is just a job rather than a profession is a challenge.  For people whose passion in coffee leads them to a career choice, there needs to be sufficient reward financially for this to be a possible option.
  7. Who is your most famous customer? OR who would you most love to serve?With Battersea Park and Battersea Power Station around the corner being used as film locations, we have had a few famous faces coming in for coffee. Michael swears Meryl Streep walked past during the filming of Iron Lady, but if it was her, she passed us by!
  8. Filter or espresso? – And why?!We really enjoy a fruity, lush and well balanced citrus filter in summer, but in winter I go for espresso with its’ rich full mouth feel.
  9. Is there a particular coffee which sells better than others?In terms of drip coffee, we found Central American coffees such as El Dimante, Huehuetenango, Guatemala and Hacienda La Esperanza, Boquete, Panama received great feedback. We have tried other espresso beans, but none get such enthusiastic feedback as Organic Natural Spirit.
  10. What slogan / strapline would be on your advertising campaign?We don’t advertise and in an ideal world we would prefer word of mouth – a more organic journey to growth. Given the newish setup only time will tell if this works, but in the meantime some signage may not be a bad idea with a strap line of ‘worth the wait’!

Featured Customer: The Lido Cafe, London
Brockwell Lido, London, SE24 0PA

Darren Murphy, Head Barista & Bar manager, is used to multi-tasking in his role at The Lido Cafe, running the bar and coffee operation as well as pricing, finance and tendering for the business.

The Lido is a delightfully located café overlooking the popular art deco outdoor swimming facility in Brockwell Park, designed by HA Rowbotham and TL Smithson and built in 1937. It remains one of the best examples of the celebrated style of this era.


The pool and Cafe

From traditional breakfasts to home cooked dinners, the Lido operates a full service throughout the day and is well regarded by locals, winning great customer reviews and awards. Time Out has recognised The Lido as ‘Best Park Cafe’ in their bi-annual food and drink awards celebrating all that’s great in food and drink in London.
As a result, they have a great talking point for the locals to celebrate – and even having customers travelling from North London.

Darren gives us the length and breadth of The Lido and it’s coffee…

1.     What do you love most about your job?

When a customer sees latte art for the first time, that’s always a cool reaction!


Latte art on cappuccino

2.       And loathe the most?!

The long hours, we’re open 7 days a week and for 4 of those we do dinner service; Thursday-Saturday which means we’re open 9am-11pm.


3.       Time in the industry, and why coffee?

Nearly 8 years, it’s flown by. It started as a job but developed into a passion and there’s so much more to it than the end product in the coffee cup.


4.       Favourite coffee?

Union’s Genesis Microlot– Costa Rica. Incredible flavour, sweet and creamy. Great as a flat white.


5.    How do you attract customers, and then retain them – with the lure of the high street chains ever present?

We have quite a tight knit local community who have voiced concerns about chains to the extent that there’s only 1 chain shop in the area. Our customers are very supportive of independent businesses so it’s important we keep looking after them. We have a great setting with a poolside terrace acting as a great selling point which is a huge advantage for us, even the richest chain in the world can’t recreate this USP!


Anyone for a cocktail?

6.       Biggest business challenge at the moment?

Keeping people coming back during the winter is hard as no one wants to sit outside in the rain. So we have to maximise our inside capacity and make it as cosy and welcoming as possible.


Dressed for dinner

7.       Who is your most famous customer? OR who would you most love to serve?

We have quite a few local celebrities, I served Laurence Fishburne a few years ago which was cool. As long as the customer is happy I don’t mind who I serve.


8.    Filter or espresso? – And why?!

Espresso, it looks prettier! I do like filter coffee, but espresso has the ‘it’ factor missing from most filters.


9.  Is there a particular coffee which sells better than others?

We’re about to start using a guest espresso on a 6-8 week cycle. So it will be interesting to see what sells best. We use Foundation Blend as our house espresso but we’re keen to try some South American coffee’s and some new blends over the coming months.


Foundation Blend espresso

10.    What slogan / strapline would be on your advertising campaign?

“Coffee on the beach” Customers often say it’s like being at the beach sat on the poolside terrace so I think we could play off that

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