Saturday, December 8, 2012

Championing Coffee Here & Abroad

Bo's Coffee has always taken pride in serving and supporting locally grown beans, towards showcasing the highest quality of homegrown coffee beverages. Beyond this, the company also commits to rear a workforce that values customer satisfaction, as the baristas demonstrate a multitude of skills both inside and out of the coffee shop.

Paul at the Origins Exhibit
(Photo by Manny Torrejon)
We give you Paul Vincent Asuncion. With his 3rd year at Bo’s Coffee, he recently bested five other competitors in the Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc.'s Philippine Barista Cup 2012, and thereby becoming the country's representative to the ASEAN Barista Championship held last September in Bangkok, Thailand.

The two mentioned internationally-acclaimed titles, took considerable time for Paul to prepare for. Within the confines of the Bo’s Coffee head office and branches, he has done several rounds of machine familiarization, batches of sample espresso extraction, and critique sessions from the Bo’s Coffee Training Staff for the technical and sensory aspects of his performances. Early on, his potential has been seen as Paul had the necessary skills to be an excellent barista. This set of skills, along with remarkable talent in concocting the perfect cup of coffee paved the way for Paul to gain support from the rest of his Bo’s Coffee peers.

Even during the 2012 Bo’s Coffee Barista Cup, PBCA Director, Ms. Susan Edilo mentioned that the characteristic which made Paul win at the Philippine Barista & Coffee Academy, Inc.'s Philippine Barista Cup 2012 was his speaking skills and manner of communicating his expertise to the judges. Paul’s years of training as a barista certainly paved the way for him to share his knowledge about the best practices and techniques in making the perfect cup of coffee, as the Training Staff of Bo’s Coffee constantly guided him all throughout his preparation for the competition.

After winning the Philippine Barista Cup, Paul further went through the technicalities of barista competitions, including a rigorous step-by-step process to perfect the performance moves employed by baristas abroad. “Nakakapagod din…May mga nagsasabi na pumayat ako noon, pero marami akong natutunan.” (It was tiring! Some were saying that I lost weight then, but I did learn a lot.)

He was advised to watch previous competition videos of the country's best baristas. This aided him in preparing for his turn in competing. He knew he could do what they were doing, and that he just needed to study the details, as well as collect a little confidence. “Bo’s Coffee Founder, Sir Steve, advised that to be confident, you need practice and knowledge. Nung competition, hindi ako kinabahan hanggang ako na yung nakasalang. Nagawa ko naman, pero pag pinansin mo, nanginginig yung mga kamay ko especially nung sinasalin ko yung Cappucino.” (Sir Steve advised that to be confident, you need practice and knowledge. During the competition, I didn't feel nervous until it was my turn. I was able to do it, nonetheless, but if you look carefully, my hands were shaking when I was pouring the Cappucino.)

He was joined in Bangkok by PBCA Director Susan Edilo and Bo's Coffee founder Steve Benitez. And as he became one of the selected finalists in the international championship, he considered it a learning experience which he owed to those who taught him the craft.

The Champion's trophy
(Photo by Paul Vincent Asuncion)

“Kailangan mo yung know-how at yung performance style, tapos ipapaliwanag mo pa yung kape pagkatapos. Kailangang alam na alam mo yung beans mo. Mas mataas lang ang standards ng ibang bansa, pero kaya natin sa technicality. Sobrang ganda ng table set-up nila, at yung mga galaw nila, sobrang galing din. Eye-opener yung pagsali ko on how other countries train their baristas.” (You need to know the process and the performance style, then you'll need to explain the coffee after it's been prepared. You need to know your beans by heart. The other countries just have high standards, but we're not far in terms of technicality. Their table set-ups were very beautiful, and their moves were also skilled. The competition was an eye-opener on how other countries train their baristas.)

For those who wish to compete in coffee-preparation contests, he had words of wisdom.

“Five years na akong barista, pero di pa ako ganung kahasa. Di pa natin alam ang lahat. Nandito tayo sa coffee industry – di lang pasok, uwi, pasok, uwi. Kailangan gusto mo yung ginagawa mo. Paano mo mabibigyan ng masarap na kape yung customer? You have to work for your family, but at the same time, you're enjoying your work dapat.” (I've been a barista for five years, but I'm still not skilled enough. We don't know everything yet. We're in the coffee industry – we don't just work, go home, work then go home. You need to love what you're doing. How will you serve good coffee to your customer? You have to work for your family, but at the same time, you must enjoy your work.)

In reference to the example of Paul Vincent Asuncion, his triumph for the year is one testimony that Bo’s Coffee supports homegrown coffee talents. Bo’s Coffee shall continue to commit in honing its baristas to be world-class coffee experts, acknowledging the value of delightful customer service through recognizable coffee-making skills and talent. 

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