Garrick Armstrong, of Muffin Break Upper Hutt, credits his success to an unlikely source. “I watched YouTube video after YouTube video, until my fiancée couldn’t stand it any longer,” he joked. Armstrong has been a barista at Muffin Break Upper Hutt for eight months. “My customers are positive and happy and so are my team! I’m so lucky to have them.”

Armstrong recently won a national barista competition run by Muffin Break and Jamaica Blue Cafés. The competition saw baristas from more than 45 Muffin Break and Jamaica Blue Cafés compete for the grand prize – $1000 cash and, of course, bragging rights. The other finalists were Sharmaine Moses from Muffin Break Dunedin and Kong Jiang and Steven Trinh from Jamaica Blue’s Auckland Hospital and Auckland Airport sites.

Armstrong believes that to make a good cup of coffee, you need to put passion and care into every cup. “I can make a good cup of coffee, but anyone can do that once off,” he told R&C. “I felt confident with my strategy about making coffee in the real world and hoped the judges would understand what I was on about.”

However, there were some pre-final nerves. “Theory and reality are two different things and I can tell you that I was nervous about everything I was doing for those judges and I was pretty sure they could see,” he said.