Thursday, September 16, 2010

Coffee Bar @Bailey’s hosts ‘Fall Barista Challenge’ on Oct. 3

Over the course of the next two weeks, the talented crew of baristas from the Coffee Bar @Bailey’s will be dabbling in an autumnal array of flavors in the hopes of becoming the “Ultimate Barista” of the fall season. 

To determine which barista’s fall flavor-inspired drink will be creative — and tasty — enough to earn them the title, CB@B is going to host a special Fall Barista Challenge on Sunday, Oct. 3.

The barista challenge will pit all of the CB@B employees against one another in a friendly competition to see who, according to a panel of judges, has developed the best beverage of the bunch. 

“It gives them a chance to experiment and learn more about what they’re working with and it gives us a chance to come up with new ideas,” said CB@B and Hillgate Communications employee Renee Cutaia. “That’s why we’re doing a fall barista challenge — because we’re incorporating a lot of new flavors for autumn, like pumpkin spice, caramel apple and toffee nut.”

CB@B staff and friends held a casual barista competition in May, but because everyone had so much fun developing and sampling the new, summery drinks, they decided to host an official barista challenge that the public could also enjoy. 

All the drinks that the baristas come up with for the Oct. 3 challenge must contain one or more of the coffee bar’s new fall flavors.

And Cutaia said she is more than happy to serve as the official taste-tester until the day of the challenge. 

“Whenever they tell me their ideas, none of them are ever the same — not even close. Last time, none of them were even remotely similar, and this time, even with a more limited idea of a fall flavor theme, they’re still all completely different. There are a lot of unique tastes,” Cutaia said. 

And because CB@B isn’t just a purveyor of fine coffee beverages — items such as hot chocolate, tea and smoothies help round out the extensive menu of drinks — Cutaia said that as long as the ingredients can be found in the coffee bar pantry, anything goes when it comes to developing a brand new drink.

The barista challenge will begin at 5 p.m., and though there will be an official panel of judges in attendance, technically, there will be two winners.

“We’re also going to be doing a people’s choice category, so anyone who wants to come and watch the barista challenge can sample all of the drinks and then everyone will vote,” Cutaia said. 

And members of the public won’t just get a few free samples for coming out to the challenge.

“We’re also giving away raffle prizes to the public, such as our new chocolate-covered espresso beans from Irresistible Confections, whole or ground coffee beans and gift cards for the Coffee Bar @Bailey’s,” Cutaia said, adding that just for showing up, each challenge attendee will receive a free CB@B coupon.

If you happen to be a CB@B regular, or even just a big fan, Cutaia is looking for three more candidates to round out the team of judges. 

So far, the Fall Barista Challenge panel of judges consists of Marketing Director of the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce Bridget Stone-Budd, Island Reporter Executive Editor Jeff Lysiak and Florida Gulf Coast University Alumni Board member Angela Bell.

If you’re interested in becoming a judge for the Fall Barista Challenge, send an email to including your name, favorite Coffee Bar @Bailey’s drink and a paragraph about yourself and why you’d make a great judge. Submissions must be received by Sept. 25. 

But even you can’t make it to the actual Fall Barista Challenge, don’t fret — all of the creations presented during the challenge will become part of the Coffee Bar @Bailey’s fall drink menu!

The Coffee Bar @Bailey’s is located near the front entrance inside Bailey’s General Store, 2477 Periwinkle Way. For more information, call 579-0026 or go to

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