Connect with us

Food Scene

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

Legacy Phuket Gazette



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


Want more Thailand news from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📝️ Join the conversation on Thaiger Talk - discuss news & life in our Thailand forums
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates


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.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

Follow Thaiger by email:

Tourism36 mins ago

US Warns its citizens against traveling to Thailand

Coronavirus (Covid-19)42 mins ago

Embassy of France in Thailand starts vaccine campaign for French nationals ages 55+

Road deaths1 hour ago

Driver killed after truck crashes from bridge, explodes in Hat Yai

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Bangkok2 hours ago

Bangkok public hospitals run low on beds for Covid-19 patients in critical condition

Coronavirus (Covid-19)2 hours ago

Lao woman rejected while trying to register for Covid-19 vaccine

Hong Kong3 hours ago

First person charged under Hong Kong security law goes to trial – without a jury

Coronavirus (Covid-19)3 hours ago

Medical researchers look into combining vaccines to beat Delta variant

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Wednesday Covid Update: 3,174 new cases and 51 deaths

Coronavirus (Covid-19)4 hours ago

Restrictions eased in yellow zones

Phuket4 hours ago

It’s happening: Phuket sandbox approved by Cabinet

Thailand19 hours ago

Thailand News Today | AoT warns about tourist exuberance, easing of restrictions | June 22

Coronavirus (Covid-19)19 hours ago

CCSA: Bars to stay closed for now, drunk customers risk the spread of Covid-19

Bangkok20 hours ago

Woman dies after jumping from Phra Khanong BTS station in Bangkok

Coronavirus (Covid-19)20 hours ago

263 covid cases linked to canned seafood factory in Songkhla

Drugs21 hours ago

Narcotics Control Board announce recent drug busts, heroin and cocaine sent by mail

Thailand4 months ago

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

Tourism4 months ago

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

Phuket4 months ago

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

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

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

Tourism4 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand5 months ago

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

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8