Stokes Hosts Battle for the Best Barista

Award-winning family firm, Stokes Tea & Coffee, kicked off UK Coffee Week with an event to remember. The first ever Stokes Barista Championship took place at the company’s dedicated Barista Training Academy at its head office in Lincoln, (on 18th October). Guests included a TV actor, well-known coffee aficionados, Barista trainers and Stokes’ wholesale customers, who came from far and wide to join in the proceedings.

The competition hotted-up as six competitors battled it out in two rounds which challenged their skills, creativity, and passion for hand-crafted coffee. After much deliberation the independent panel of judges made their awards to deserving competitors.

Nic Till, owner at Riverhead Coffee in Grimsby and Cleethorpes, picked up the prize for Best Technical, she said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic, it’s such a surprise! I’ve really enjoyed this event, it’s brilliant to see everyone coming together to celebrate their passion for coffee.”

Cate Martin, Bean Block Café, Newark, picked up the Best Personal Drink Award for her ‘Lotta Latte’ creation, she commented: “It’s a little overwhelming to have won. I’m thrilled the judges really understood the concept behind my drink which was about making excellent coffee accessible to everyone, particularly parents with young children.”

Laura Giles, Stokes Barista at the High Bridge Café in Lincoln, picked up the prize for overall Winner she said: “I’m completely dumbfounded! I can’t believe it. It’s been an amazing experience and I’m really honoured to have won this!”

One of the judges was specialty coffee connoisseur, Jordan Keen. A former competitor in the UK Barista Championships, Jordan now manages the hot beverage portfolio at around 60 British Garden Centres outlets, located all over the UK.

He said: “It takes more than top quality coffee beans and machines to make the best coffee drinks. Real knowledge and skill are very important in producing the quality customers expect. Tonight’s championship has been a fantastic way to celebrate the enthusiasm for and importance of excellent Barista skills.”

Mike Palliser, Training Manager at Stokes’ Barista Training Academy, said: “It takes a bit of bravery to perform under the spotlight and our competitors were excellent. Baristas are pivotal in completing the coffee journey – after it’s been picked, processed, roasted and packed, it depends on their skills to create the final step of perfection. They are a real asset to any business serving coffee to ensure the consistency and quality will keep customers coming back. We’re proud to have helped hundreds of baristas qualify at our academy. It’s unique setting helps students experience our working roastery during their training.”

Mike added: “Our first Barista Championship has gone down so well, it’s likely to become an annual event.

Find out more about Stokes Accredited Training at

Stokes Facts

  • Stokes Tea & Coffee is a family business which was established in 1902 and has its headquarters in the city of Lincoln.
  • Stokes not only sources, roasts and distributes coffee to customers who visit the High Bridge and Lawn cafes, but also runs a successful commercial operation, supplying coffee and tea, associated machines, servicing and Barista training as well as virtual coffee and tea tasting experiences to customers all over the UK.
  • Nick Peel is the great-grandson of the company’s founder Robert William Stokes, and is the fourth generation to lead the business.
  • Stokes of Lincoln has survived two world wars and several recessions but despite its traditional image, Stokes is at the cutting edge of innovation and has a number of new developments to show for it – including the eco-friendly coffee roaster which cuts the use of natural gas and CO2 emissions and a range of new virtual experiences which have been endorsed by National media including Evening Standard Magazine and a number of Fortune 500 companies.
  • The business has grown significantly and now employs around 65 people.
  • Every week Stokes roasts around 3 tonnes of coffee at its Lawn based operations.
  • Stokes’ cafés are sited at two unique buildings – The Lawn is a 200-year-old former lunatic asylum, and the High Bridge café stands on a medieval bridge dating back almost 1000 years. Built over the River Witham in around 1160, it’s the only Medieval bridge in England with houses still on it. Stokes High Bridge Café is steeped in history and has been standing tall since 1540.
  • Stokes Barista Academy offers BSA and City & Guilds accredited courses