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Hearing-impaired baristas show off their skills at coffee festival

By He Qi in Shanghai | | Updated: 2023-04-04 16:04
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The 7th Lujiazui Coffee Festival was held in Shanghai from March 29 to April 2. [Photo provided to]

Hearing-impaired baristas partnered with able-bodied ones to compete in a latte art competition at the 7th Lujiazui Coffee Festival in Shanghai on April 1.

The second such contest jointly organized by Oatly, the Blue Wind Chime Program and Unibrown Coffee, the event featured 10 groups of baristas who were scored based on their latte art, the taste of the coffee, and production time.

The contest is a key part of the "silent barista project" that was launched three years ago by oat milk company Oatly, which has since sponsored barista training for over 200 hearing-impaired people.

Presently, more than 80 baristas trained under this initiative have been employed in cafes like Unibrown Coffee and Hinichijou, according to Oatly.

Besides OATLY, the Meng Gong Fang coffee shop, the first employment base for mentally handicapped youth in Shanghai, and LiLi Time, the first coffee shop in the Chinese mainland to be certified as a "B Corp" enterprise, were also involved in the coffee festival aimed at helping people with disabilities secure employment in the coffee industry.

A "B Corp" enterprise is one deemed to have high standards for social and environmental performance.

"A cup of delicious coffee warms the city. A coffee project born out of love is worth investing more care in," said Chen Bai, the person in charge of the festival.

According to Chen, the number of brands participating in the coffee festival has burgeoned from just 24 in 2016 to 260 this year.

"Coffee festivals can enhance the quality of surrounding businesses and generate more commercial, tourism, and even accommodation consumption," said Li Zhiwei, deputy director of the Lujiazui neighborhood committee office.

"The coffee industry is a highly competitive one, and some startups and boutique coffee shops need platforms to gain more exposure and opportunities. This festival can provide them that."

One of the highlights at this year's festival, which took place from March 29 to April 2, was the Coffee City Roaming themed area which comprised stalls by top boutique coffee shops from 12 Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shenzhen, Suzhou, Chengdu, Qingdao, Guiyang, and Jingdezhen. International brands like Lavazza, McCafé and Nespresso were also in attendance.

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