The ubiquitous scent of coffee was fused with an air of excitement at the Sofitel Wentworth as experienced Barista Gavan McDougall was awarded the ACCOR & ANDRONICUS Best Barista title for 2005.

With over six years experience in the art of coffee making and having undergone intensive training over the past six months, Gavan took top honours in the competition - which has been running from the beginning of the year and culminated in final rounds throughout April - ahead of some of Australias best and up and coming Baristas
The judging panel included representatives from the ACCOR hotel group and ANDRONICUS, and required contestants to create three coffees of their choice using ANDRONICUS coffee beans, followed by one of their own specialty drinks. Contestants were then required to answer a series of technical questions to test their wider knowledge of coffee making.

Open to baristas from all ACCOR hotels across Australia , entrants were provided with training by National Barista at Nestlé Ryan Spinoglio in conjunction with Academie Accor, the ACCOR groups worldwide training brand, in preparation for the heats. Eight finalists then went on to compete for the Best Barista title at the grand final.

Gavan impressed the judging panel with his signature coffee drink - a decadent mocha martini and his thorough knowledge of coffee making. As part of his prize Gavan and a friend will be heading off to Brazil , the coffee hub of the world for two weeks with $1000 spending money.

After a six year stint as a restaurant manager, Gavans coffee making skills and passion heated up when he began working as a Barista in the jazz and piano lounge of the Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney . It was here that Gavan was exposed to what he described as his first ‘truly great cup of coffee.

Fuelled by the knowledge that he was able to make a customers experience in the lounge so much more enjoyable, Gavan said, “Im grateful to know that I am helping guests get a better start to their day and by providing the perfect way to wind down of an evening. This encourages me to continually strive further in perfecting my skills.”

In addition to mastering both the technical and presentational side of coffee making, Gavan explains that part of the art is knowing how to inject excitement and personality into the whole experience. While he admits that making great coffee can be as thrilling to a Barista as flaring is to a bartender, he confesses that his favourite coffee to make is a flat white due to its ‘simplistic elegance.

Only in its first year, the ACCOR and ANDRONICUS 2005 Best Barista Competition was developed to focus on the high level of coffee making skills within the ACCOR hotels group, using quality ANDRONICUS coffee. In taking coffee very seriously, the ACCOR hotel group wanted to inspire their employees passion for coffee and coffee making. In addition, they were hoping that by employees participating, they would not only learn the essential skills needed, but also enjoy themselves along the way.

Marianne Nirta of the Novotel Northbeach in Wollongong took second place winning an ECM coffee machine and grinder, while Jeremy Thorburn of the Mercure Grand Hotel on Swanston in Melbourne was awarded third place winning a domestic coffee machine from Saeco.

Accor and Nestlé are continuing to invest in the future of Baristas and coffee making by developing a new certified Barista Course in Australia in conjunction with Accors own hospitality and industry training initiative, Academie Accor. Academie Accor has campuses in Sydney , Gold Coast, Melbourne , Perth and Auckland .