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

The aroma of freshly roasted beans filled a room at the Starbucks EMEA Support Centre in London as seven exceptional barista champions entered, not as competitors, but as collaborators. Their reunion wasn't for another adrenaline-fueled showdown, but for a far more fulfilling purpose: a beverage development session and a reflection on their career journey as Starbucks partners.

Barista Champions from Greece, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Kuwait, and the Starbucks Milan Roastery were brought together to understand more about how we brew the future of Starbucks fuelled by our Mission and Values, and a journey to learn more about how the Starbucks Beverage Development team creates new and exciting products with our partners (employees) in mind. Over the bar counter, champions had a chance to play with upcoming beverage components, and experiment with flavours and ingredients to create recipes that were tasted alongside those partners in charge of introducing new products to our menu.

As the conversation flowed, so did the inspiration and the collective pride of wearing the iconic Starbucks green apron. Both Sam and Dan (part of the Starbucks Beverage Development team) started their Starbucks career as baristas, both competing in different years of the Starbucks Barista Championships.

“I think something Sam and I feel quite passionate about, as we both come from store, is to always look at partner complexity when creating new beverages. Our green apron partner in stores are the ones making the drinks we create, and without them we can’t showcase our new launches” says Dan Saxby, Product and Beverage Developer at Starbucks EMEA.

But the true magic wasn't in the intricate designs or technical mastery. It was the joy of rediscovering the passion that ignited their careers in the first place, for all the partners involved in the craft session.

“I believe Starbucks is the best brand if you want to grow, not only as a coffee lover but also as a creative person. The memories, the inspiration, and the fire to keep doing what we do, inspiring the next generation of coffee lovers is something I am tremendously proud of” said Joza Styles, the 2023 Germany Barista Champion.

“I feel that connection is something that is very central to Our Values, and also next to that, I feel that this is a place where everyone can be themselves” shared Ilan - the 2023 Netherlands Barista Champion - reflecting on the role we play as partners and how Starbucks is constantly pushing boundaries through the implementation of our Mission and Values.

Each champion brought a unique perspective that day, either by unique creations or a reflection on their partner’s journey. They weren't just creating beverages; they were crafting experiences and building a bridge for future generations of partners to come. Their London reunion wasn't just about coffee; it was a testament to the enduring power of their collective role as green apron partners and the limitless possibilities ahead for their career journey.