Standing on the Protea Hotel stage with six other finalists at the 9th Uganda National Barista Championships, Denis Agaba cut a figure of calmness as he silently prayed that his name is not among the first ones to be mentioned. as more names were mentioned, excitement and nervousness welled up inside him as it became clear that he had at least made it to top three champions list this year!
Thirteen months earlier on the evening of the 24th of November 2014, Denis was in a similar situation as he anxiously praying his name was not called early among the 6 semifinalists but to his disappointment, it came 1st. “I had worked really hard and was extremely saddened but I decided not to dwell on what had transpired and instead try and learn from the experience and practice my routine more to prepare for the 9th Barista Championship. Fast forward thirteen months later, all I could think about at that moment as they called out names was the prayer I had shared with our General Manager the night before the championship in his office and when I looked up to find that I was the only standing up on that stage, I knew I had made it!!
“While many agree that making a good cup of espresso or a cappuccino is an art in itself, (‘latte art’ referring to the creative patterns made from the velvety milk foam skillfully poured into a rich crema-crowned coffee) it is also the endless endeavor of creative expression, hard work, careful planning, practice, practice and more practice that puts you above the competition.
However small a competition is, those 15 minutes of your presentation are what defines you as a Barista and a true creator of coffee art masterpieces. I personally spent long nights alone in the Serena kitchen long after everyone else has gone home to rehearse and practice. In fact the night before the finals, I spent the entire night in the kitchen downloading recipes off Pinterest and going over them repeatedly until I was pleased with the result. So in that moment I was announced overall champion, I knew that every hour of practice I put in contributed towards my delivery of Uganda’s best Cappuccino and Africa’s best Espresso”.
In his usual calm demeanor Denis concludes by saying that of course nothing could have been possible without the enormous support he received from Management, his supervisors, the Executive Chef as well as the small and dedicated team at the Ssese Pastry Shop. He also extend his deepest appreciation to the Uganda Coffee Development Authority for their generous contribution in promoting coffee and enabling Ugandans generally to engage more with what was always considered a foreigners drink.
Denis was the overall winner at the 9th Uganda National Barista Championships hosted in December at the Protea Hotel where he also won the Best Cappuccino Award.
He then went on to represent Uganda at the African Barista competitions in Arusha where he emerged 2nd runner up as well as presenting the best Espressos in Africa.
On the 22nd of June 2016, Dennis returns to the stage and joins world renowned Baristas to represent Uganda at the World Barista Championships in Dublin Ireland.
You can follow him on Pintrest as Denis Agab