Connect with us

Food Scene

The Art of Coffee: Phuket barista to take on Hilton rivals from throughout Southeast Asia



PHUKET: Even before the world was full of middle-class yuppies, coffee was a big deal to those in the know. Now, everyone is part of the in-crowd, and even those wanting just a simple cup of coffee are asking their barista for an Americano.

For those who aren’t in the know, a barista is to coffee what a sommelier is to wine and a soda jerk is to cola. They are the ones who ensure that your cappuccino gets an equal part of that familiar morning trinity of espresso, milk and foam.

Now, just leave it to the Americans to follow the Japanese and let something as normal as coffee get weird

with bikini baristas, which is a person who prepares and serves coffee drinks while dressed in scanty attire, at least according to Wikipedia (where else do you confirm such a strange fact?).

This marketing trend of banking in on “sexpresso” shops started in Japan in the 1980s and spread to the US in the early noughties. However, nearly 14 years later in Phuket – the capital of terrible sex puns – we are still keeping it classy when it comes to coffee and our baristas.

Such coffee class rose to the milky surface on December 15, when Chalalai Saenkhan – Food & Beverage Captain from Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa – took home the Thailand Barista Cup. After having beaten out five competitors on the island she was able to advance to the nationwide level and put seven other of Hilton’s finest in the Kingdom to shame.

The Hilton competition, unlike other barista comps, is split into a written product knowledge test and a preparation test.

During the preparation test, Ms Chalalai had to make an espresso, a cappuccino and a “freestyle specialty coffee” – no alcohol allowed.

And when it came down to it, it was her award-winning Lychee Tower caffeine creation that made the difference.

“We are immensely proud and happy for Chalalai. Throughout the entire preparation period she was constantly trying to improve her signature coffee, seeking the opinions of others and feedback from the judges,” a Hilton representative told the Phuket Gazette.

“She is extremely service oriented with a beautiful smile, and winning this competition is a testament to her hard work. We had no doubt Khun Chalalai would make us proud and represent Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa with great enthusiasm.

“This was also a good experience for her as she was able to view, taste, and discover new flavors and coffee-making techniques, which will surely challenge her to come back and create even more exciting coffees.”

Now, Chalalai will face top Hilton baristas from other countries in the region, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, The Maldives, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: a competitive barista’s skills aren’t something solely appreciated and judged by the Hilton and their guests; there is also the World Barista Championship (WBC), which started in 2000.

In the WBC, competitors have 15 minutes to prepare and serve 12 coffee beverages: four espresso, four cappuccino and four signature drinks for four sensory judges.

Even if you aren’t in desperate need of 12 top-notch coffees, that Lychee Tower definitely sounds tempting.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli


Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Crime2 hours ago

Court issues arrest warrant for Sia B’s father, the ‘real owner’ of Mountain B

Thailand3 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Tourism minister joins Full Moon Party on Koh PhaNgan

World3 hours ago

Monkeypox variants renamed to avoid offending people

Sponsored12 hours ago

British International School Phuket: Reflecting on 25 years of world-class education

Tourism3 hours ago

Thailand ranks as fourth most popular destination among Chinese travellers

Crime3 hours ago

Thailand sentences musician to 6 years for royal defamation

Central Thailand4 hours ago

Thai doctor slaps a 3 year old for swearing & refuses to treat him

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand4 hours ago

Thailand records fifth case of monkeypox in Thai woman

Guides5 hours ago

Why you should visit a wellness retreat in Thailand

Thailand5 hours ago

Govt take a trip to the shroom to help Thailand’s depressed

Chiang Mai6 hours ago

E. coli contamination found at popular waterfall in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand

Travel6 hours ago

Impressive beachfront hotels to book in Phuket

Crime6 hours ago

Thai temple man charged with murder of alleged would-be robber

Travel6 hours ago

5 incredible beaches in Phuket to visit in 2022

Travel6 hours ago

Board game cafes in Bangkok to unleash your competitive streak

Cannabis6 hours ago

Cannabis is illegal on Khao San Road, officials call for crackdown

Thailand11 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism1 year ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11