Singapore National Barista Championships 2015: John Ryan Ting Wins Crown, Despite Odds

His mum is battling end-stage lung cancer. So John Ryan Ting, 34, from the soon-to-be-opened ARC Coffee cafe, could not focus his full efforts on preparing for the Singapore National Barista Championships (SNBC) 2015 – an annual competition held by the Singapore Coffee Association to identify the best talents in the art of the Barista. And he almost pulled out of the competition.

John Ryan Ting is the champion of the 2015 edition of the Singapore National Barista Championships.

John Ryan Ting is the winner of the 2015 edition of the Singapore National Barista Championships.

“But my mum insisted that I pursue this, despite her illness. She told me to chase my dream and that she would be there for me, no matter what,” a clearly emotional Ting explained – tears slowly flowing down his face as he was speaking.

Crowned champion at the SNBC 2015

In the end though, Ting’s never-say-die spirit and determination paid off, despite the odds. He was crowned champion at the SNBC, which was held last Friday and Saturday – and beat 15 other contestants in the process.

This was Ting’s third win in the SNBC finals, which was held at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre this year. His previous two triumphs had been in 2008 and 2009. And for the past four years, he has been a judge for barista competitions. So 2015 marked his comeback in taking part in a competition again.

Said Ting, “I didn’t expect to win at all. It hasn’t really settled down yet. I guess this has always been a dream for me.” And yes, he dedicated his win to his mother, who had been smiling proudly at him, from the audience.

Had to present three types of coffee to the judges

To have a shot at winning the title, contestants had to present three different types of coffees to a panel of judges. These were an espresso, a cappuccino and their own signature drink – and these had to be completed within a time frame of 15 minutes.

Ting’s signature coffee – the drink that he felt had clinched the title for him – comprised of an espresso with an added mix of Earl Grey and vanilla tea. Said Ting, “The flavours in this espresso was supposed to be very balanced, so it was easy for the judges to enjoy. I wanted them to have that heart-felt feeling of drinking the coffee, that would make the judges feel comfortable and soothing. My strategy this year was designed with that in mind.”

Ting’s drink made us go wow

Charlotte Wang, 29, the head judge for the competition, was impressed with Ting’s coffee. She said in Chinese, which was translated into English, “John’s drink made us go, wow. That’s the customer’s experience that we were looking for in the contestants. I also think that his coffee will bring a trend, as he’s very passionate and we could feel his sincerity with the coffee that he makes.”

Not only did Ting’s drink captivate the competition’s judges, but in an incredibly moving moment during the course of the competition, he got down from the stage and presented the drink to his mother, in the audience. And tears flowed down Ting’s cheeks, when his mother gave her approval to his coffee – by giving a slow and sure nod, which was quickly followed by a smile. Yes, she was indeed proud of her son, for what he had achieved in his quest to pursue his dream.

Ting's mother, who is battling end-stage lung cancer, tries a sip of his signature coffee.

Ting’s mother, who is battling end-stage lung cancer, tries a sip of her son’s signature coffee.

Won the chance to represent Singapore on the world stage

As part of his win, Ting now has the chance to represent Singapore at this year’s World Barista Championships 2015, which will take place in Seattle, the USA, this April.

Strangers Reunion baristas took home second and third places

The second and third placed winners in the competition respectively, were Regina Tay and Zenn Soon, who are both from Strangers Reunion – a cafe located at Kampong Bahru Road.

The other three finalists in the competition were 2014 defending champion Loke Xinyi from Common Man Coffee Roasters, Dennis Tang from Nylon Coffee and Lee Hee Wei from Olla Speciality Coffee.

Amazed at the growing standards in the Singapore coffee industry

The Singapore Coffee Association president, Victor Mah, was pleased at how the coffee standards in Singapore have been growing. He said, “I am amazed at the improving standards every year in the coffee industry. Also, we had three ladies in the finals, which has traditionally been dominated by the guys. So they are doing a very good job to boost coffee in Singapore.”

Added judge Wang, “The coffee standards in Singapore are very compatible with the world level – and that of top coffee nations such as Italy, where I have been to judge before. The standard is definitely there.”

This year's finalists at the Singapore National Barista Championships - from left to right: Regina Tay, John Ryan Ting, Lee Hee Wei, Dennis Tang, Loke Xinyi & Zenn Soon.

This year’s finalists at the Singapore National Barista Championships – from left to right: Regina Tay, Lee Hee Wei, Dennis Tang, John Ryan Ting, Loke Xinyi & Zenn Soon.

More top notch coffee events to be held in Singapore

Singapore’s coffee culture has indeed been on the rise for the past few years. In fact, coffee lovers who want more, can look forward to the Cafe Asia 2015, which will be held at Marina Bay Sands (Hall E) from 19 to 21 March this year. Here, visitors can catch an enticing battle between Singapore’s best coffee artists – at the National Latte Art Championships 2015.

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