Boyd Gaming employee Joanna Gutierrez has loved coffee since she was a child. Not only does she enjoy drinking it, but she feels passionate about brewing it for others.
Her passion and skill were put on display during the Starbucks® Regional Barista Championship at Grand Bazaar Shops on Aug. 9.
Gutierrez, a barista at the Starbucks inside Aliante Casino + Hotel + Spa in Las Vegas, beat out three other baristas within her district to secure her spot in the state level championship.
During the contest at the outdoor retail attraction on the Las Vegas Strip, Gutierrez and seven others individually demonstrated their latte art skills as well as their ability to expertly craft four classic Starbucks beverages: a latte, cappuccino, caramel macchiato and flat white. Judges evaluated their coffee knowledge and how they connected with customers.
Although Gutierrez did not win the state title, she found it extremely rewarding to have the opportunity to compete.
"Participating in the event was an amazing experience," said Gutierrez, who has worked at the Aliante Starbucks for about a year. "It was really fun to show people how much I love being a barista and to see how others love it too."
Gutierrez inherited her love for coffee from her dad. The two shared a passion for the beverage, even before she was considered old enough to drink it.
"I love making coffee and I love seeing people drink it," she explains. "I love giving people that experience, even people who haven't had coffee before. I like finding something that they will actually drink and really enjoy."
Working at the Starbucks inside Aliante is both fun and interesting for Gutierrez. Not only does she get to serve loyal local guests and Boyd Gaming employees, but she often meets hotel-casino guests from all over the world.
In fact, one customer from Spain recently taught her a word or two in Spanish.
Sandra Smith, the food and beverage administrator at Aliante, considers Gutierrez to be "an awesome part of our Boyd Gaming team"
Gutierrez agrees that her team is awesome. She believes any of her coworkers at the Aliante Starbucks would have been a challenging contestant.
"Any one of my fellow baristas would have performed amazingly because we all know the same things," she says, "and we all love doing our job."