From 28 to 12: Starbucks names its top Baristas who are competing to earn the title Barista Champion

There is always a person behind the coffee, but could there be a champion barista behind your next beverage? Meet the finalists in line competing for the ultimate title

After almost 12 months of competition and practice to make it to the 2018 Starbucks EMEA Barista Championship Final, 28 National Champions—with over 164 years of Starbucks experience between them — made it to Amsterdam, all vying for the title of being named the best barista.

The week-long competition has already seen incredible barista bar skill artistry and knowledge of Starbucks ethically sourced coffee tested to ensure the semi-finalists’ skills on the bar and with the product were at their highest. As the top 10 baristas were presented with limited-edition coffee cupping spoons, two additional spoons remained — to the surprise of all watching, these special spoons were for two wild card champions.

However, there will only be one taking home the prized purple apron, let’s meet them.

John Lester Flores, originally from the Philippines, now lives in Dubai and is representing the United Arab Emirates

"It took me two attempts, and on the third attempt finally I made it. It took courage, hard-work and perseverance for me to become a Barista Champion".

Inès Kadi, France

"To be a champion it takes time, patience, love, people taking care of you and pushing you."

Dominika Szabó, Hungary

"Starbucks is a whole way of life, an opportunity to express myself and what I love."

Arman Shamenov, Kazakhstan

"I get to know new customers every day, I always offer ceramics first – the planet will say thank you."

Sudeep Shrestha, Kuwait

"You have to be transparent to show your love for the coffee every day in store. I also think that hard work always pays off."

Maurizio van Dalen, Netherlands

"I have been a fan since 2011 when I started collecting city mugs – the power of Starbucks is you feel like home no matter where you are in the world."

João Duarte, Portugal

"Starbucks, from the beginning, meant family to me."

Kristina Mironova, Russia

"I'm proud to be a Champion and it's a big responsibility. Using social media, I share training videos with my district."

Zwelahke Ronald Miangeni, South Africa

"Starbucks means living their mission statement of neutering the human spirit – it's all about minor differences we make to our customer"

Richy Plata, Spain

"I've been a Starbucks customer for over 13 years, it is like my second home, or even my first! To now be part of the Starbucks family mean a lot to me."

Kemal Ozciftci, Turkey

"I feel so proud. It makes me happy and proud to lead my partners, be a good example, and inspire them that they can do the same."

Bartek Kusmierz, United Kingdom

"It felt amazing to become a National Champion as I was competing against such passionate partners, and to think I am here representing them is just out of this world."