Joan Samia of Artcaffe Named Kenya’s World Class Bartender

Samia and her Artcaffe team members

Samia, Head Bartender of Artcaffe (Coffee & Bakery) beat 6 of the best mixologists to be crowned the Diageo Reserve World Class Kenya Bartender of the Year 2016.  Samia will go on to represent Kenya in the global finals later this year in Miami.

The finals took place at the Villa Rosa Kempinski hotel on 17 May 2016. Finalists competed in four categories including the crowd-favourite high-pressure ‘Against the Clock’ challenge, ‘Street-food Jam’ where bartenders were asked to create cocktails inspired by Kenyan cuisine, a task built around the natural rhythms of life from ‘Night to Day’ and ‘Around the World’ a cocktail journey influenced by Kenya and the USA.

She mesmerized the judges from the very first cocktail but it was her unique and show-stopping signature serves that lead her to win the coveted golden shaker. A matatu journey crossing Nairobi to the Pineapple farms of Thika with its smells, flavours and sounds was the inspiration for her cocktail Route 44.

It was an innovative mix of Don Julio tequila, pineapple puree and coconut cream that paid homage to her hometown.  Samia’s over-riding theme for the competition came from Hollywood movies. For her ‘Day cocktail’ she chose to bring to life Julia Robert’s iconic Runaway Bride with Tanqueray 10 gin, infused berry syrup, lemon juice and Cava brut.

Samia’s other signature concoctions included Golden Globe (a mix of Ketel One vodka, Goldschlager, sweet & sour syrup, blue berry juice, pomegranate and Cava brut) and Little Havana, a tribute to Miami (Ron Zacapa XO, Talisker and a dash of lime).

Movie-themed cocktails

Throughout the competition Samia consistently proved her capabilities and creative flair to the esteemed panel of judges that included: Dougie Duncanson, Reserve Ambassador Kenya along with Sherlyne Muita, Diageo Reserve Brand Manager; Alex Kavita, award-winning mixologist, Akash Tomar, 2015 World Class Kenya Champion; Georgie Bell, Singleton Ambassador and Ciaran, Executive Chef Villa Rosa Kempinski.

Samia is certainly excited to have won. Starting out as a waitress she has always wanted to prove that women can excel in a male dominated bartending industry. Looking forward to the global finals she hopes to showcase the very best talent a female Kenyan mixologist can bring.

The 'Desperado Cocktail'

“Right now its pressure, pressure, pressure! I’m preparing myself to compete against the world and represent Kenya in a way that nobody has done before. I am sure it is going to be a surprise to those at the Final competition to see a lady representing Kenya,” she says.

Judge Alex Kavita noted, “she wowed us in the ‘Against the Clock’ challenge and her Runaway Bride cocktail was quite an exemplary experience. This year’s competition saw the standard set very high with entrants becoming a lot more experimental and out-of-the-box.”

The 'Scarface cocktail'

2016 is proving to be a year of highs for the Artcaffe brand having been awarded Superbrand status recently. Artcaffe’s head barista, Martin Shabaya also won the African Barista Championships earlier this year.

GALLERY: Diageo World Class Bartender Competitions

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