Every year the baristas across our 7 stores compete to be crowned the Planet Organic barista of the year. The competition includes making our signature coffees with different milks and creating a signature drink with the winning drink being sold across all our stores for the summer. We caught up with our Barista of the Year 2016; Derya who works in our Torrington Place store to talk competitions, coffee and her amazing iced hazelnut latte.
How long have you been at planet organic?
I started at the end of November so 8 months. I have been in London for 8 years (from Turkey) working in the hospitality industry.
How did your love of coffee start?
Before I came to London I had never drunk a cappuccino, then when I did I was like wow!
When independent coffee shops started appearing I travelled around England to visit them. I would look up where to get good coffee in a place then visit, like going up to Oxford.
What do you like best about visiting coffee shops?
When I first walk into a coffee shop, I love the smell of the coffee. Every weekend I go to a nice coffee shop with my husband, this weekend we went to Hatton Gardens to get our wedding rings and we went for a nice coffee there. I am very picky about coffee shops!
Apart from Planet Organic obviously, where do you like to go for coffee in london?
Monmouth coffee and I really like Caravan because you can smell the beans roasting while you’re drinking your coffee.
How do you drink your coffee?
I like to drink good quality coffee, I am not a coffeeholic! I used to drink cappuccinos. Now I want to drink straight coffee. My favourite is a double macchiato; a double espresso with melt in your mouth thick foam on top. It’s my manager Andrew’s favourite as well.
Were you nervous before the barista of the year final?
I was a little bit confident during the competition! I thought I had a chance to win and I spoke to the other contestants before we started and I think I made them nervous!
During the competition you wowed the judges with your signature drink; your iced hazelnut latte. was this something you designed for the competition?
This was a very old recipe of mine. I created it years ago in turkey after the first Starbucks opened; I wanted to create my own version of their iced drinks. The shop I worked in
didn’t have a blender then so I put all the ingredients in a jar and had to shake it!
Were you excited when you won the competition?
I was excited when I won. I had been doing extra training myself for 2 days before the competition after I finished work at 5pm until 9pm.
What do you like most about being a barista at Planet Organic?
I am very interested in sales; I like selling good products. I like to draw pictures in the coffee for regular customers too; like a sun if it’s raining or a smiley face. I am very happy when customers wait for me to make their coffee.
Why did you choose hazelnut milk, what was your inspiration?
My father has a hazelnut farm in the small village in Turkey that I am from. Every year I go back to manage the hazelnut harvest, last year we had 5000kg of hazelnuts but this year we hope to have 10,000kg.
Tell us more about the Harvest!
I am going back at the end of August for a couple of weeks. We have 20 people working on the farm between 7am and 7pm harvesting the hazelnuts. I walk around and give them food & drinks and make sure they are all ok. I am taking my husband with me this year for him to learn.
Check out our drinks menu HERE
Derya’s Iced Hazelnut Latte is a blend of hazelnut milk, double espresso, Manuka honey and vanilla bean paste. It is available in all stores until the end of August!