Former Banker Gives Opposition A Roasting


By Alexander Lawrie

A FORMER banker who quit the financial industry to open his own coffee shop has just been crowned Scottish Barista champion.

Jonathan Sharp, 31, was presented with the prestigious coffee-making award on Wednesday (21/01) after beating off stiff competition from baristas from all over the country.

The coffee shop owner quit his job as an auditor for the Royal Bank of Scotland four years ago to pursue the dream of owning his own business.

And his gamble paid off handsomely as he grabbed first prize to become Scottish Champion for the first time.

Jonathan, who owns the Kilimanjaro and Wellington coffee shops in Edinburgh, also won the competition’s ‘best signature drink’ with a tiramisu-inspired coffee flavoured zabaglione.

This year’s championship was held at Edinburgh University’s debating halls, and winner Jonathan now goes onto represent his country at the UK Finals in March.

And if successful there, he will fly out to Atlanta, Georgia in April to compete for the ultimate prize of World Barista Champion.

Jonathan said: “I was really surprised to win this year’s event as I’ve only been at this game for about four years.

“There are some really tough opponents out there, so for us to do so well is very pleasing.

“I gave up banking to fulfill my dream of owning my own business. And as I’ve always been passionate about coffee it made sense to combine both ideas.

“So far it has all worked out great. I’ve got two shops in Edinburgh and we are about to open our third premises near to the university.

“Of course, I did question myself about making the break from RBS, but after recent developments it looks like I got out at the right time.”

The former Strathclyde University graduate had to perform a 15 minute presentation in front of four coffee experts and was marked on his coffee-making methods and his technical style.

And there was a double celebration for the newly-crowned champ as second place went to one of his employees, Kristen Olsen.

Ms Olsen can also still qualify for the UK Finals as best placed runner-up.

Jonathan said: “The growing strength of Edinburgh’s independent café scene demonstrates that coffee drinkers are now demanding more in terms of quality and individuality.

“It’s great Kristin might be joining me at the finals. It’s been a bit of a coup to get a one, two in the competition.

“Hopefully we can now go on and win the UK title for Scotland.”

The UK Championships are held at the SECC in Glasgow between March 2 – 4. This will be the first time the UK Finals have been held north of the border.