Starbucks crowns barista from Bloem as SA’s best

Thapelo Nkanyane, South Africa’s best Starbucks barista PHOTO: Gypseenia Lion

The Starbucks National Barista Champion was recently crowned when Thapelo Nkanyane, a barista based at the Mimosa Mall Starbucks, battled alongside competitors across South Africa to claim the title as the country’s Best Starbucks Barista.

Nkanyane, who is originally from Janefurse, Limpopo, found himself in Bloemfontein through his studies, but describes himself as someone who always wanted to explore the world beyond his village. In July of last year, when Starbucks opened their doors in the City of Roses, Nkanyane saw his opportunity to do so.

“I always wanted to work in a place where I could impact humanity positively and this was it,” he said. “I knew I no longer needed to search further because I found my purpose.” The Starbucks National Barista Championships were held at a branch in Paarden Eiland in Cape Town, and this is where the crowd would witness Nkanyane’s coffee brewing prowess. Seven baristas from all over South Africa vied for the coveted title, with the challenge culminating in a one-on-one latté art showdown.

This is the challenge that allowed Nkanyane to clinch his top spot and earned himself the accolade of being Starbucks South Africa’s National Barista Champion. “It’s quite an achievement for me,” said Nkanyane, who knew during his early days with the company that there was something more for him. “Within a week of being with the company, I had already started practising my art. I was already doing coffee tastings,” he explained.

Nkanyane’s passion and love for brewing is evident, “What fascinates me is the craft and how we inspire and nurture the human spirit,” he said. Already a regional and national champion, Nkanyane will be aiming for the title as Starbucks EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) World Champion when he heads to London and Amsterdam in October.

Warren Hawkins