Jamaica Blue and Muffin Break Baristas scoop first and second place at M.I.C.E 2014

Jamaica Blue barista Lewina Stewart of Toowoomba in Queensland and Muffin Break's Melissa Hall of Penrith in New South Wales have claimed first and second place respectively, at the third-annual Davinci Coffee-Chain Barista Championships held last week (15 May) at the 2014 Melbourne International Coffee Expo (M.I.C.E).

Lewina, a barista at the Jamaica Blue café at The Ridge Shopping Centre at Toowoomba, won the opportunity to compete at M.I.C.E after knocking-out hundreds of competitors from across Australia and New Zealand in the 2014 Jamaica Blue Barista Championships; while Melissa is the 2013 Muffin Break Barista Champion.

Both trained by The Foodco Group – which owns the Jamaica Blue and Muffin Break franchise brands – Lewina and Melissa competed at M.I.C.E before an expert panel of judges from the AustralAsian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA). Judged under World Barista Championship guidelines, the competing baristas were required to proficiently prepare four espressos, four cappuccinos and four signature beverages within just 15 minutes

The ASCA judges were particularly impressed by Lewina and Melissa's signature beverages. The 2014 top prize-winning signature beverage from Jamaica Blue's Lewina Stewart contained an espresso shot blended with natural palm sugar and lemongrass, with a basil and chilli flavour infusion and served in a cup rimmed with fresh lime zest; while Melissa's signature beverage included a shot of espresso with an elderberry and star anise reduction and freshly-squeezed orange juice.

The third consecutive year of podium placings at M.I.C.E by The Foodco Group's Jamaica Blue and Muffin Break brands, Lewina and Melissa ultimately outshone competitors from McCafé, CIBO Espresso and Krispy Kreme.

Lewina, a mother of three who works part-time at Jamaica Blue The Ridge and is well-known for her work in the Toowoomba community, said she is humbled and encouraged by her achievement at M.I.C.E, which she owes in-part to Foodco's Barista Training team.

JB Lewina Stewart of Toowoomba in Queensland

“The competition really was very good, so hearing my name announced by the judges was a real shock... and then they called Melissa's name as runner-up and it was a double dose of shock that turned into euphoria!” said Lewina.

“I love my job and such grand recognition by some of the finest in the industry is truly motivating. I am so grateful to the Foodco Barista Training team for all the time and effort they've invested in training me and Melissa, especially in the lead-up to the event,” Lewina added.

Foodco Group Senior Coffee Consultant, Simon Au-Yeung, said Lewina and Melissa's outstanding performances are testament of the quality of Foodco's nationally-accredited Barista Training Program.

"Our Barista Training Program has been developed by coffee industry specialists especially for Jamaica Blue and Muffin Break. Foodco's Barista Training Program is regularly updated in-keeping with the latest and best industry practices and national accreditation standards," said Simon.

"Considering our outstanding success at M.I.C.E this year, Foodco's approach to barista training is clearly a cut above our competition!" added Simon.

For more information, including Jamaica Blue and Muffin Break franchise opportunities, visit foodco.com.au.