Lights, Camera, Action: Lebanon’s Cynthia Khattar crowned Barista Champion 2021, live from Central London

Updated: 22 November 2021

It might have been raining in England, but at Starbucks iconic Tower Place store in London, there was still plenty to smile about, as partners from 26 countries across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa competed in the finals to become this year’s 2021 EMEA Barista Champion.

Streaming in real-time online for the very first time assessible to over 40,000 partners from across the region, the day kicked off with presenter Simon Thomas and Duncan Moir, president of EMEA, live from London, welcoming each of the 16 finalists from their homes across the region, from Russia to France, South Africa to Denmark.

Broadcast for the very first time, in our 50th anniversary year, audiences got a real-time behind-the-scenes peek into the magic behind the screen, as Simon Thomas squeezed through high-tech camera set-ups to take viewers through a tour of the newly refurbished store, its state-of-the-art Reserve bar, and specialty erected green screen.

Before judging began, Simon was put through his paces with his very own coffee tasting, led by Robert Lynch, Lois and Natalie, in which Simon took “his first-ever slurp on TV”.

And then it was time for the battle to begin, as 16 candidates were whittled down to just four finalists through a grueling Latte Art Throwdown head-to-head, in which viewers at home, across all our 43 markets, voted for their favourite.

Finally, we were down to the final four: Italy, Lebanon, Austria, and South Africa, leading judges from across the business to make the nerve-wracking final call on this year’s winner… Cynthia Khattar from Lebanon!

Panning to her store in Mansourieh near Beirut, Cynthia’s partners rushed on-screen to celebrate, a three-year partner with Alshaya whose passion for coffee began when she watched her barista trainer pour a latte art finish, inspiring years of practice, research, and refining, and now see her crowned Barista Champion 2021. 

The accolade no doubt comes as welcome news to Lebanon, where just over a year ago partners in the country’s capital Beirut experienced one of the world’s largest-ever non-nuclear explosions.

As part of her win, Cynthia will receive her very own coffee named after her, made at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Milan, in its own limited edition bag design.

A stellar victory for a deserved champ, we can’t wait to see what Cynthia does next… but if one thing’s for sure, it will likely involve the copious amount of coffee.

We leave you with some extended highlights from the EMEA Barista Championship 2021: