Veronica Palacios, a barista for Sodexo at the An Post staff restaurant at the GPO in Dublin, has been crowned the 2017 UK and Ireland Barista of the Year at the Sodexo Salon Culinaire at Ascot Racecourse.
Palacios, who came to Ireland from Venezuela four years ago, joined Sodexo last year with no formal training in coffee.
Encouraged by David Byrne, the group site manager at An Post, she undertook an intensive barista training course organised by the company in June 2017. Palacios went on to win the Irish heat of the Barista of the Year competition at the end of August and then travelled to the Salon Culinaire at Ascot to take part in the UK and Ireland Final against nine other competitors from England, Scotland and Wales.
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On the win,Palacios said: "I just can’t believe that I’ve won! I want to thank David Byrne and my colleagues in Sodexo for all their help and support. The barista training course with UCC Coffee was excellent and I learned so much from it. Although I was very nervous about the Final at first, I managed not to be overwhelmed by the crowds and really enjoyed the whole experience."