S'pore's top barista prepares winning beverage for cancer-stricken mum

With care and dexterity, barista John Ryan Ting prepared his signature drink, an espresso with an added mix of Earl Grey and vanilla tea.

And it had one other ingredient: love.

For it was not only the judges at the Singapore National Barista Championships 2015 that he was preparing this delicious concoction for.

He was making it for the one person whose opinion mattered more to him than winning - his mother.

In this coffee-making competition, there is a segment where, after the judges have sampled each contestant's coffee, a few members of the audience will get the chance to go on stage to try one of the three coffees.

But Mr Ting had only had one member of the audience in mind when it was his turn.

His face wrought with emotion, he took the drink over to his mother, who was waiting in a wheelchair in the front row. His mother, Madam Magdalene Tan, 73, has final-stage lung cancer.

"She took a small sip and said to me in Mandarin that it tasted good." said the barista, 33, who was the competition's eventual winner.


The contest, held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre last Friday and Saturday, pitted 16 coffee-making artisans against one another.

Contestants had 15 minutes to serve judges three beverages: an espresso, a cappuccino and a third drink of their choice.

They were judged on the taste and quality of their drinks as well as their overall presentation and professionalism.

The winner will get the chance to represent Singapore at the annual World Barista Championships, which is to be held in Seattle, in the US state of Washington, in April.

Having won the competition twice before, Mr Ting, who is in the midst of setting up a cafe called The A.R.C. near Jalan Sultan, said that his mother was the driving force that motivates him to do his best.

"She is very passionate about the things she likes and I guess I must have inherited that trait," said Mr Ting, who is single.

Second runner-up Regina Tay, 26, said she joined the competition because it gave her the opportunity to work with different types of coffees.

She said: "The results are secondary to me. It is the learning journey and the opportunity to push boundaries and inspire others that meant the most."


This article was first published on Feb 3, 2015.
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