Crema of the crop: Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or® finalists give their best ‘shot’ in Starbucks® coffee challenge

Olivia Charles

Nestle Professional

Premium Supplier 10th May 2024
Olivia Charles

Nestle Professional

Premium Supplier

Crema of the crop: Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or® finalists give their best ‘shot’ in Starbucks® coffee challenge

The 2024 Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or finalists learned all about the provenance of 100% arabica coffee beans and delved into the art of coffee craftsmanship, in a bespoke innovation challenge set by competition partner Starbucks.

The challenge was part of an action-packed Toque d’Or Grand Finals week, comprising a series of challenges built around the competition’s overarching theme of sustainability. Throughout the week, competitors were presented with the opportunity to hone their skills while exploring the latest culinary trends, enabling them to bridge the gap between classroom learning and the dynamic, fast-paced nature of the hospitality industry.

The Starbucks coffee challenge kicked-off with a coffee tasting, where finalists sampled the different varieties of Starbucks 100% ethically sourced arabica coffee beans. In addition, competitors learned all about the business, talking to Starbucks UK Director of Retail Operations Jon James about all things business growth, operational excellence and exemplary customer service.

This was shortly followed by an insightful coffee masterclass. Led by a team of highly-skilled and experienced Starbucks Green Apron Partners, the 12 finalists learned about important industry topics such as the provenance of coffee and Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, the cornerstone of Starbucks ethical sourcing approach to buying coffee. Students then got practical in a hands-on session focused on the art of brewing, including cold brew techniques, and espresso pouring.

The day culminated with the innovation challenge. In pairs, competitors were tasked with crafting an iced signature beverage tailored to the discerning palate of Gen Z consumers, using core Starbucks ingredients such as Cold Brew, milk and dairy alternatives, flavoured syrups and sauces, freeze-dried fruits and the full range of Starbucks Refresha® beverage bases. Flavour boosting staples such as citrus fruit, fresh herbs, tonic and sparkling water and dark chocolate were also available to choose from.

The finalists were judged on their creative flare when making the signature beverages, while ensuring coffee stood out as the hero ingredient. In addition, competitors had to provide reasoning behind their choice of beverage including the flavour, its relevance to a Gen Z audience, and the occasion it had been created for.

Emma Bancroft from Coleg Cambria and Geraldine Sierra Torres from Westminster Kingsway were crowned winners of the Starbucks coffee challenge. The duo impressed the judges with their creative thinking and team spirit as they created their winning Cold Brew infused with Matcha Tea, poured over ice and topped with a layer of basil flavour cream cold foam. Commenting on their win, Emma said: “We wanted to create something completely different; something that’s not really been done before. For us, that’s how we thought we’d be able to make our drink stand out and appeal to the senses of Gen Z. Geraldine added: “We worked really well together throughout the challenge, but particularly during key moments such as perfecting the recipe, getting the appearance just right, and serving the drink on time. It was our mindset – thinking like we were serving the customer – that really helped us in this challenge.”

Commenting on the event, Camila Cabral, Strategic Partnerships & Events Planning Lead at Nestlé Professional, said: “We’re thrilled to have collaborated with Starbucks to deliver this year’s coffee challenge during the Toque d’Or Grand Finals. Showcasing the art of coffee craftsmanship as well as sustainable practice, this challenge demonstrated just how creative, talented and passionate this year’s finalists are. We are grateful to our partner Starbucks for supporting the competition to help create an unforgettable learning experience for the students.”

Alex Rayner, General Manager at Starbucks UK, said: "It was a pleasure to partner with Nestlé Professional to welcome the talented Toque d'Or finalists to the Starbucks Support Centre in Chiswick. At Starbucks, our partners, our customers, and our coffee are at our core, and we’re proud to have played a role in inspiring the next generation of hospitality professionals. We hope the competitors continue to be curious, creative, and fearless as they move forward with their careers”.

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall  – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 16 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 560,000 followers across Facebook, X, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.