What Does it take to Become Starbucks EMEA Barista Champion?

What does it take to be crowned Starbucks Barista Champion out of 41 countries in its Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region? The Starbucks EMEA Newsroom team met Fabio Neno, assistant store manager from Portugal, who knows exactly how it feels to take the crown – or in Starbucks terms, the purple apron and gold milk pitcher.

Fabio has worked at the Armazens Chiado Starbucks store in Lisbon for six years, and also competed in last year’s EMEA Barista Champion competition. He says: “I didn’t make the final four last year, so my aim this year was to be a finalist and anything more than that would be a bonus. I entered for my partners - to make them proud.”

Fabio’s skills and coffee knowledge as he competed on the stage at the prestigious event in London in front of hundreds of Starbucks partners was what led him to be crowned the winner. Asked what his reaction was when he heard his name called in the final round, he said: “No way – it can’t be true. It was unreal.”

The connection with Starbucks partners around the globe and meeting new customers is at the core of why Fabio loves his job so much. “Being behind the counter is one of the things that I love, connecting with the customers and I am passionate about training partners. I want to be the inspiration for other partners - to be the face they know and recognise and realise anything is achievable for them too. Coffee brings people together, I really like the social aspect and experiencing stories all centered around coffee.”

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Barista Champions Reunite: a London reunion brews up coffee and career inspiration