A level student reaches final of barista competition

Our students are full of hidden talents and Ayse Selcuk is no exception. Alongside studying A level Art, Textiles and Business at Leeds Sixth Form, the 18 year old recently took part in a national barista competition, coming first in the regional heat. She will soon be heading to London for the finals, which are taking place in November at Bewley’s Tea & Coffee factory showroom.

Ayse works part-time at coffee shop, Insomnia, at Primark, which is how she got involved in the competition. “I was entered into the competition by my manager earlier this year, giving me lots of time to prepare. A Bewley’s coffee trainer came to visit me with some information about the day, advice on signature drinks and what’s expected.

“The competition was a full day, consisting of six candidates from across the UK who all shared a love and passion for making and drinking coffee. We each had 15 minutes to set up our work surfaces and prepare. We then had 15 minutes to present. This included making and serving four espresso drinks, four milk based drinks, (I chose lattes, decorated with a heart) and four signature drinks. I was judged by four experts, including a technical judge, two taste testing judges and a head judge.

“My signature drink was inspired by cherry bakewells as they’re my favourite pudding! I named it ‘Cherry Bakewell Moch-tail’. I created and tweaked this recipe with colleagues at work so that it was just right. It included a base of three glacier cherries layered with cherry sauce that I made at home, then I shook ice cubes, almond extract, vanilla milk and cooled espresso in a shaker and poured over the syrup. To finish, I topped it with whipping cream, a fresh cherry and a sprinkle of crushed almonds. The judges loved it!”

Ayse, whose favourite drinks include blackberry hot chocolate and hazelnut mocha was shocked to find out she came first. “It was so surreal. As it was my first competition, I wasn’t expecting it at all. I participated for the experience, but ended up gaining different life skills such as independence and confidence. I have also developed a passion for something I never thought I would.

“It would mean the absolute world to win the finals. I can’t put it into words how much it would mean to accomplish something like that. It’s a scary but exciting thought.”

The competition has inspired Ayse’s plans for the future, and she would like to take her business qualification to the next level by running her own coffee shop one day. “I’d love to have it art themed as I love being creative, and combining an arty vibe in my own coffee shop would be an amazing combination.

“I would just like to end by saying be happy and follow your dreams!”