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CoffeemasterGill iscreamof the crop; Jade Wright meets the city barista who is causing a stir.

NEXT time you're buying your morning latte in Starbucks keep an eye out for Gill Chatten. Gill is the latest breed of coffee connoisseurs and has just been crowned Starbucks regional coffee master.

Gill, a resident barista at the Old Hall Street branch, has beaten off stiff competition from 2,000 fellow Starbucks employees to take the coveted regional coffee master position, one of the most revered jobs within Starbucks.

Gill will now oversee up to 120 stores around the north of England and north Wales, teaching fellow baristas and customers about coffee and conducting tasting sessions.

"I love coffee," says Gill, 24, from Lydiate. "I could drink it and talk about it all day every day. It's amazing to see the look on people's faces when they realise that matching coffee to different types of food can really change the flavour of coffee.

"I really like filter coffee, but I've only discovered this recently. My favourite blend is Sumatra - it is a fantastic, bold coffee that has a full bodied aroma. When I'm in a rush, I like to drink a double tall skinny latte as it tastes great - I've been known do drink these in seconds.

"I love to make a caramel machiatto. They taste amazing when the caramel syrup dissolves perfectly into the espresso. I love to make the caramel drizzle on the top perfectly symmetrical."

Gill started work at Starbucks almost two years ago, becoming coffee master for her store after only a month.

"Over the last two years of working at Starbucks I have developed my sense of smell and tastebuds to tell the difference between different types of coffee blends," says Gill, who originally trained as an architect.

During that time, she's served her share of famous faces.

"I served John Barrowman," she says. "He had a venti mocha frappuccino. Colin Murray also came in and had a tall latte."

A typical day for Gill sees her behind the coffee bar, making drinks for customers. She is constantly learning new tips on how to create the best tasting and looking coffees.

She will now train staff, known as partners, on all aspects of coffee from how to make the perfect flat white, to recognising the smell of coffee beans from different regions and helping customers discover their favourite drink.

She will conduct tastings, particularly with regular customers, who can pop in to the cafe to try out the latest coffee blend. Tastings involve discussions about the different tastes of coffee from areas around the world and discussing which coffee should be matched with different types of food.

The aim is to ensure that the coffee served is presented consistently at every Starbucks store, and that every barista is able to share their coffee knowledge with customers.

Gill says: "My role as regional coffee master means that I can share my passion for coffee with others and spend every day doing what I love."

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COFFEE BREAK: Gill Chatten has won the regional coffee master title
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 6, 2011
Words:502
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