Martin Shabaya, the three-time winner of the Kenya National Barista Championship, will head to South Korea in November to compete in the World Barista Championship for coffee brewers.
Shabaya emerged the winner of this year's contest held at the end of July in Nairobi's Junction Mall. The event, established in 2004, is sponsored by Dormans Coffee and the Nairobi School of Coffee.
More than 40 baristas from Kenyan hotels, restaurants and coffee houses took part this year, and eight contestants made it to the finals.
In front of judges and guests, each contestant had 15 minutes to prepare a single espresso, a milk beverage and a non-alcoholic espresso based signature drink.
Shabaya said he chose a macchiato as his milk beverage "because of its size, strength and the imagery on the beverage." The judges were impressed by his signature creation, a coffee drink called Kenyan Earth served in clear glass tumblers.
It was espresso-based, with grapefruit, crimson grapes and cardamom.
He attributed his win to the good presentation and synergy. "I was connecting from palm to cup, and explaining the process from the coffee tree to the cup of coffee," said Shabaya.
He kept his smile and calm composure even when his presentation was interrupted by a power outage that temporarily shut down the coffee machines.
The judges panel comprised Kenyan coffee professionals and two representatives from World Coffee Events, organisers of the World Barista Championship. In between each round, guests enjoyed cups of freshly brewed coffee and a presentation of Dormans coffee blends.
Shabaya is the head barista at Artcaffe, a Kenyan restaurant franchise. He started working there six years ago, with no background in coffee brewing. "I came here by chance after high school, and was directed to the bar section," he said.
Dominic Kedemi was the first runner-up and he will represent Kenya at the Africa Barista Championship in Kampala. The event is organised by the Africa Fine Coffee Association.