The brand’s signature Taste of Discovery Coffee Competition was held by Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts and Illy, remarked as the brand’s global partner coffee programme, last month (November 2016) at Illy headquarters in Trieste, Italy which bring together Le Méridien Master Baristas: from Paris, New Delhi, Barcelona, and Bangkok. And the goal of the competition was to further stimulate a passion of Le Méridien’s coffee culture.
After two days of exchanging global trends in coffee and training the latest innovative recipes, the final challenge had each finalist serving 3 types of coffee – 2 espresso, 2 cappuccino and 2 freestyle espresso-based beverages inspired by the location the Master Barista was travelling from - all in 15 minutes. The challenge was judged by Illy’s coffee experts, Le Méridien’s Global Latte Artist, Esther Maasdam, and Global Master Barista, Franz Zauner.
The October of 28th 2016, Son, Thai Barista, clinched the competition and became the first Thai Master Barista which bring home the top prize. His signature coffee he invented, showed a truly local taste of Thailand’s famous cuisine, aptly called “Tom Kha Coffee.” This exquisite beverage led him to become the champion in this competition.
“The inspiration of Tom Kha Coffee came from a very simple thought: Lemongrass is such a common and versatile ingredient in Thai cuisine so I infused coffee with lemongrass and it worked out. From that I started adding more ingredients to make the drink distinctively Thai and more complex.” said Son Nguyen. “The unique thing about this drink is the addition of Thai Naam Pla Waan (sweet fish sauce). I know it sounds crazy - fish sauce in coffee? But the homemade Naam Pla Wan that I used, completes the drink very well, it tastes sweet, savour and little spicy which gives you the taste of Thai.”
Son Nguyen is originally from Vietnam, but grew up in Russia and studied in Switzerland. Prior to Bangkok, he worked in China, Italy, and Miami (Florida) – where he discovered his passion for coffee.
“My passion for coffee was ignited in Miami, where the previous hotel that I worked with at that time signed an exclusive contract with Illy. It changed all coffees, teas, and related products to be Illy. As the result of this, we had been trained and learnt from Illy. The session that inspired me the most was when we got the chance to do a personal training with Giorgio Milos, Master Barista at Illy caffè. That was the beginning of my passion for coffee,” said Son.
Son is now a Master Barista at Le Méridien Bangkok, and his role is to ensure quality of coffee as well as to introduce Le Méridien’s coffee programme to the hotel’s valued guests and associates. He is the coffee ambassador of the hotel, who brings their guests and coffee closer through interactions, activations and events.
Indulge and get inspired by Son’s signature coffee “Tom Kha Coffee” at Latitude13, Le Méridien Bangkok.