This year we’re proud to return as a sponsor for the English Italian Awards 2015. This prestigious event celebrates the English Italian community and their talent for producing some of the world’s most excellent food and drink. We’re even prouder to have been asked to judge the finalists in the ‘Best Barista’ category for the first time.

The Italian Awards began in 2013 in Scotland, and this year marks their arrival in England. The aim of the awards is to find the nation’s favourite Italian restaurants and cafes and to recognise and honour their excellence. Initial voting power is therefore given to the general public, whose votes make up the nominations in each category. The 15 categories this year range from ‘Best Family Restaurant’ to ‘Best Pizza’ to ‘English Italian Chef of the Year’. Once the nominations are decided, a panel of expert judges then decides on the winner.

Once again we are sponsoring the awards alongside our distinguished Italian supplier Portioli, who provide us with some of the finest Milan-roasted coffee you’ll ever taste. This year we were also afforded the distinction of judging the ‘Best Barista’ competition. On September 15th, we put the seven finalists through their paces at our Sheffield training hub, judging them to UK Barista Master Standards in order to find the ‘best of the best’. The finalists competing were Caffe Venecia, Al Porto Hull, Nonnas Sheffield Ltd, Enzo Nantwich, Panis Cafe, Paolo & Donato’s Deli and Casanova.

“We were very impressed with the professionalism, quality and level of skills displayed,” said Simon Speed-Andrews, our Head of Training and Product Development and one of the ‘Best Barista’ judges. “It shows that the quality of coffee being served in the UK is constantly improving and the baristas are continuing to strive for perfection and should be applauded.”

We will be attending the Gala Final alongside Portioli at Manchester’s Palace Ballroom on October 4th, when the winners of all the categories, including ‘Best Barista’, will be announced. We can’t wait! We’d like to wish all the finalists the best of luck, and congratulations on getting this far.

We will announce the winner on the blog, so watch this space…