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Women in Coffee

At Whitbread, we are committed to being the most inclusive hospitality business. We are proud of all the incredible Women of Whitbread, and wanted to take the opportunity to showcase some of the brilliant women who are part of the Costa Coffee team.

Sabine Testar – Category Manager, Beverages

Before I joined Costa Coffee 3 years ago, I worked in the retail sector and to be honest I did not appreciate or even drink much coffee. However, the global importance of coffee as one of the most traded commodities in the world and its ever-growing popularity really inspired me to learn and understand more about coffee.

Blended together with the incredibly passionate people that work for Costa, I very soon felt that joining the business had been the best move I have ever made.

In my current role as Category Manager for Beverages I am fortunate to be able to work with coffee experts across the business to ensure that our customers get the perfect Costa experience in every cup.

My role starts from sourcing new blends of coffee for our menu board, creating new coffee concepts with the Global Innovation team, and spreading the excitement of new drinks by working with the Marketing team. I love being involved in shaping and delivering the recipe for a truly ultimate coffee experience for our customers.

My proudest personal achievement so far was to be recognised and voted a Costa Foundation Ambassador 2018. My fundraising for the Costa Foundation enabled me to go and see the opening of our 78th Costa Foundation school in Vietnam.

My journey is far from over and I can say that coffee is the most exciting business to be in!

Karolina Kurek – Production Shift Manager, Costa Roastery  

I work at the Costa Coffee Roastery in Basildon as the Production Shift Manager. I manage a team of four and my main responsibility is to meet Production Volume demand for the whole business, support new product development, and ensure quality standards are maintained.

I joined Costa in November 2012 as the Laboratory Assistant at the Roastery in Lambeth, London. I had the pleasure of working with the Master of Coffee Gennaro Pelliccia and Laboratory Manager Hugo Castaneda. As a Laboratory Assistant my main task was to safeguard Costa’s core coffee blend DNA through robust quality checks to deliver a consistently great coffee every time.

During this time, I achieved one of the coffee industry’s highest professional accreditations - The Q Grader. After passing the six days of intense examinations, I received this qualification which places me amongst the best coffee professionals at Costa Coffee and around the world.

The turnaround in my career came when we built our new state-of-the-art Roastery in Basildon, where I got promoted to the position of the Production Shift Manager (my current role) at the most environmentally friendly, greenest Coffee Roastery in the world.

Konstantina Spasova – Store Manager, London

My journey in Costa started in July 2014, and since then I've learned so many things about the importance of leading by example and how to motivate a team.

My journey started as a Barista, but I quickly progressed to Barista Maestro. I found everything I was learning so interesting that I progressed even further, becoming an Assistant Manager and now the biggest step… Store Manager. My role as a Store Manager is one of the biggest challenges I have ever taken on! For me, the most important thing is to work closely with my team, because this is what I know brings a store and a Store Manager the most success. By supporting them, teaching them, coaching them and developing them, I can make sure that they deliver an unbeatable coffee4 experience to every single customer.

I also love all the new innovations from Costa and I was so excited to be part of many previous projects. Now, my store is involved in a new initiative called Costa Collect, giving customers a new way of ordering their drink.

My next step is to become a mother to a wonderful baby boy at the beginning of January, and then let’s see were my ambitions will take me!

Ruth Lewis – Store Manager

I started my career with Costa on 1st November 2015, and I must say from day one I have loved every moment of it. It's a fast paced but enjoyable job with loads of opportunities which I have been lucky to get.

In March 2016, I was chosen for an apprenticeship through the WISE programme, and what a journey it was! I met some ace people and learnt everything you need to know about coffee from bean to cup, and more about the Costa business.

June 2016 was a big month for me! Firstly, I got married, and I was also promoted to Barista Maestro. I really enjoyed my role but wanted extra challenges, so I became the Costa Foundation Champion for my store. I have so much passion for the Foundation – it has a little piece of my heart and will always mean a lot to me.

In November 2016, I was promoted to Assistant Manager and this is where my journey got even more exciting. Costa is a great company to work for; they invest in training each team member through every step of their career progression. I did online training, attended courses, and had training in store. The WISE Programme helped me gain confidence in myself and helped me to progress, and I was even voted Apprentice of the Year.

A year later, my Area Manager offered me a store of my own. With her ongoing support, I really enjoy looking after my team of 13 and my regular customers – it’s a home away from home, and I go into work every morning knowing that I can make someone’s day. Costa is very close to my family – my sister has been in the company for 10 years. We have both gained so many friends all over the UK; I like to say we are a little Costa family!

As a Store Manager, I wanted to share my success and help others progress. I am currently supporting two of my Barista Maestros through their own WISE apprenticeships, and also help my local community. We do litter picks with the council, help out with local children’s events, and host a Chatty Café every Thursday.

It’s been tough, but I wouldn’t change my job for anything. I go home each night with a smile on my face, knowing I have a great network of support; from my Area Manager, to other Store Managers, and my fabulous team, my amazing husband, as well as my family and friends. I am so happy to say I work for Costa, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for me and my journey!

Sylvia – Costa Foundation student

When Sylvia was in her third year of secondary school, she became pregnant and dropped out of school. She had her baby and married her husband. Today, Sylvia has four daughters aged 10, 8, 5 and 3, but has never given up on her desire to get an education.

In Uganda, 28% of women give birth by the time they are 18. Once they have children, young mothers often find it challenging to return to school as there can be a lack of understanding of the importance of educating women.

After discussions with her family and making the necessary childcare arrangements, Sylvia decided to finish secondary school. She decided to enrol at the Costa Foundation Kithoma High School as it was one of the few schools that allowed her to come back to school and remain close to her family home.

“When I came to Kithoma High School; my classmates did not chase me away or berate me for the many years I hadn’t been to school. Instead they are good to me and treat me the same as everyone else. They say that I have helped them to recognise the importance of education as they see how much it means to me despite the fact that I cannot be with my daughters.”

Sylvia joined her school’s Girls Club to share her experience with other girls; she wants to support and be a role model for other young mothers returning to school. Once she leaves Sylvia wants to become a nurse when she graduates from Kithoma High School and offer her daughters the opportunities that she never had.

To find out more about how the Costa Foundation is changing women’s lives, visit https://www.costafoundation.com/heart-stories/

Harriet Granville-Jones – Central Operations

I work as an Operations Simplification Analyst within Central Operations. I aim to make life easier for our teams by removing unnecessary tasks, simplifying complicated processes and introducing innovative technology and equipment. My role is field-based, so I spend most of my time visiting stores to gain feedback or conduct trials, and some time in Support Centre where I collaborate with a variety of departments. 

After completing my Psychology degree, I joined Costa on the Operations Graduate scheme. After spending a year in two flagship stores, I was offered a six-month placement with the Central Operations team.

I was then really excited to be asked to stay in the team. As the Ops Excellence team has expanded, I’ve been able to take on more responsibility and been lucky to get involved in some really interesting projects, including trialling new coffee machine technology!

I see my role expanding to larger projects within Costa and in the future, I hope to move into a senior role in efficiency. This will mean continuing to be self-motivated, and driven to deliver great results that improve the coffee experience for both our teams and customers.