Western Region Canadian Barista Competition

July 4, 2007 — The Canadian Barista Academy will present the Canadian Western Regional Barista Competition and Training Workshops on August 14-15, 2007 at Heritage Hall in  Vancouver, BC. The event celebrates the skills of the barista; the consummate artist of the espresso machine. Some of Canada’s top “espresso bartenders” will compete for the regional title and a spot in the finals at the National Barista Championships to be held in Toronto in September.

The competition features baristi preparing a series of espresso based beverages in a very tight window of time for a discerning panel of official coffee judges. Judges rate the competitors on taste, design, speed, showmanship and creativity.

The Academy will also offer hand-on training for those new to the industry or those who want to perfect their skills. Workshops offered include: Barista Basics & Espresso Training and Advanced Barista Training & Latte Art. A cupping workshop will also be offered. The training takes place on August 14, followed by the Western Regional Competition on August 15.

As the premier regional event in Canada, organizers are encouraging baristi from cafes and restaurants to sign up. The competition is open to both novices and seasoned operators alike, and some fabulous prizes are available to be won. The competition is open to the public and will run from 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. at Heritage Hall in Vancouver. It will feature a coffee and tea fair with table top displays where visitors can see and sample new products from the event’s sponsors. Proceeds from coffee sales will go to the Coffee Kids charity helping children and their families in coffee growing countries improve their quality of life. The event is open to the public. Doors open at noon.

The Western Regional Canadian Barista Championship sponsors are ECM, Nuova Simonelli espresso machines and Mahlkonig Canada

Other sponsorship opportunities are still available. Call today.



April 30, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — canadianbarista @ 5:49 am

It’s been a few weeks now, the judges/organizers have put away their stop watches and pencils.  Competitors have gone from putting the final touches of their specialty drinks to putting sleeves on takeout cups.

Now that everyone has had a chance to digest things a little bit, it’s time for performance reviews.  Those who wish it, may sign up for an autopsy of their performances.  This can be done either via this forum, email or even video conference.  We will have at least 2 judges available via web conference.  Please email or blog your interest.

The nationals will be coming up September, so for those preparing for the big event, there is much work to be done.  I am pleased with the progress Eastern Canadian competitors have made over these last few years.  However at the nationals, the bar will be raised higher, and the routines that placed well a few weeks ago, might be overwhelmed at the nationals.

For those of you who will attend the USBC at Long Beach next week,  May 4-8,  you will see first hand the state of the barista arts south of the border.   Canada has always fared well globally, but that’s only because our 3 time national champion, Sammy Piccolo, always looked outside canada to experience the best and the brightest of the coffee world.

Bottom line, if you  plan to compete in the nationals in September, may want to step up their game.  No better time to begin planning than right now.

Girrl power at the Eastern Regionals…

April 17, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — canadianbarista @ 8:23 am

It was a long day of competition and judging at the Steam Whistle Brewing company.  In the end, it was the women who ruled the day, locking down the top three spots  at the Eastern Canadian Regional Barista Championships in Toronto, Here are the OFFICIAL RESULTS:
1st place:  Kimberly Stavely  ( Matter of taste)                    570.5 pts
2nd place:  Dawn Tran ( Matter of taste)                             540.5
3rd place :  Tie –
Ivonne Ramirez ( Dolce Cafe), Cathy So ( Avenue Cafe’)        516.5
4th place:   Matthew Taylor ( Mercury Organics)                    509
5th place:   Samuel James ( Cherry Bomb)                           452
6th place:   Chris Tellez (Espresso Post)                              444
7th place:   Alex Tran (Mercury Organics)                             434
8th place:   Michael Empacher ( F’coffee)                             338
9th place:   Elias Vlastis ( C.E. Organics)                             313.5
10th place: Chris Wilson ( Journo)                                       161.5
*Disqualified,  over time  Matthew Lee ( Manic Coffee)

Congratulations to all the competitors, for a job well done!   It was great to see the comraderie in the fact of all the intense competition.  A special thanks to all the sponsors, for recognizing how important baristas are to the coffee industry.  Without the coordinated efforts of sponsors, volunteers and suppliers,  this coffee celebration event would not happen. Thanx….   LK

ERBC 2007

Winners Announced for the third Annual Canadian Eastern Regional Barista Competition

The battle for the Best Barista in the East has been determined at the third annual Eastern Region Canadian Barista Championship held on April 14, 2007 at Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto. Women took the top three spots, as best baristas (espresso bar tenders) in a profession traditionally limited to men in Italy.

Kim Staveley, from Matter of Taste in Kitchener was the first woman to win a barista competition in Canada. Co-owner of Matter of Taste, Dawn Tran placed second. Both were trained by co-owner Phong Tran who had placed second in last year’s competition.

“This event was met with enthusiastic competitors and provided the audience with an opportunity to learn about the high level of skill it takes to make a proper espresso beverage,”

This year’s regional judges included Toronto famed chef and restaurateur Chris McDonald of Cava restaurant, named best restaurant in Toronto this year by Toronto Life magazine and Wanda Beaver, president of Wanda’s Pie in the Sky, a supplier of desserts and pies to many cafes and restaurants in the city.

Tied for third place was Yvonne Ramirez of Dolce Gelato & Café on College Street in Toronto who created a signature beverage using gelato and Cathy So of Avenue Café & Bistro, a popular and café on University Avenue in Toronto.

The winner of the regional competition has secured a spot in the finals rounds of the Canadian National Barista Championship to be held September 16-17, 2007 at the Toronto Congress Centre. The competition is open to both novices and seasoned operators alike, and some fabulous prizes are available to be won – including the winner’s trip to the 2008 World Barista Championship. The 2007 World Championship will take place in Tokyo, Japan and Canada will be represented by our current national champion, Colter Jones of  Caffe Artigiano in Vancouver.

The regional competitions were organized by the Canadian Barista Academy which also offers hands-on Barista Basics & Espresso Training and Advanced Barista Training & Latte Art and Barista Jams in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. The Academy will be presenting a Western Regional competition in August and offering more barista training classes at the Western event and in September in Toronto.

Donations at the event went to the Coffee Kids charity helping children & their families in coffee producing regions to improve the quality of their lives

2007 Eastern Regional Barista Championship Competitors and their scores and rankings:

  1. Kimberly Stavely, Matter of Taste, Kitchener Score: 570.5
  2. Dawn Tran, Matter of Taste, Kitchener 540.5
  3. Ivonne Ramirez, Dolce Gelato & Café, Toronto (tied for 3rd) 516.5
  4. Cathy So, Avenue Café & Bistro, Toronto (Tied) 516.5
  5. Matthew Taylor, Mercury Organic Espresso Bar 509
  6. Samuel James, Cherry Bomb Coffee, Toronto 452
  7. Chris Tellez, Espresso Post, Collingwood 444
  8. Alex Tran, Mercury Espresso Bar, Toronto 434
  9. Michael Empacher, F’Coffee, Toronto 338
  10. Elias Vastas, Ce Organics, Toronto 313.5
  11. Chris Wilson, Journo, Toronto 161.5
  12. Mathew Lee, Manic Coffee, Toronto (Overtime)

2007 Eastern Regional Winners Profiles

Kimberly Stavely, 1st Place, 2007 Eastern Region Canadian Barista
Champion, Matter of Matter of Taste Coffee Bar, 119 King Street
Kitchener, ON
Back in August 2006 I dropped my resume off at a coffee bar in downtown Kitchener called Matter of Taste. Little did I know that eight months latter I’d become 2007 Regional Barista Champion!
The competition was intense! Preparation required lots of hard work and dedication. The training from Dawn and Phong Tran was vital to my win. There are so many variables that you forget. The hardest and most stressful part of competing was making sure I knew how to adjust these variables to ensure an excellent product. I have always enjoyed the adrenaline rush of competition, and this was my best experience yet! The most stressful part of the day came before I competed. I was very nervous, but once I had my grind set and my espresso looked excellent, my nervousness slowly died and my fifteen minutes of fame began. The proudest moment was when I poured four perfect ‘monk
head’ cappuccinos. Life as a ‘Barista’ taught me discipline, give me the confident in my work and myself. I feel very lucky to have had dropped my resume off back in August 2006.
The concept at Matter of Taste is simple – to offer and be the best in specialty coffee. Owner Dawn Tran and Phong Tran are dedicated to the professional training of barista and instilling an appreciation of coffee to both employees and customers alike. Since opening in March 2004 in downtown Kitchener, Matter of Taste has gain reputation for quality, passion for the coffee culture and for creating beautiful culinary art of coffee. Matter of Taste has trained some of Ontario’s best baristi. In fact, some of the baristi have competed at some level at the Canadian Barista Championship. At Matter of Taste, we are constantly striving to raise the standards of quality and services.

Dawn Tran, 2nd Place, Matter of Taste Coffee Bar, 119 King Street
Kitchener, ON Five years ago, I did not know much about coffee. I open the coffee bar with basic understanding of coffee but I knew I had to learn a lot more. Along the way, I stumbled upon the art of coffee. I saw these beautifully prepared coffee drinks with rosettas and hearts on them. I thought to myself how in the world did they do that? At that moment, I told Phong that if we are to distinguish ourselves that this would be it. We worked hard, developed our skills and taste palettes. Now four years later, Matter of Taste Coffee Bar has brought latte art, coffee culture and the craft of barista to the Kitchener-Waterloo Region.
Currently at Matter of Taste, we have five fully trained baristi. One of my responsibilities is to train all new staff with the basic knowledge of coffee and customer service. If the new employee meet our requirements then we put them into our barista training program.
I really enjoyed the experience of competing at this year’s Canadian Regional Barista Competition. Creating a signature drink was by far the most enjoyable part. First, I had to visualize in my head how the ingredients would taste with coffee. From there it was trial and error to get the correct ratio. Of course, there is the exhilaration of the competition. I was not overly nervous going in, but I felt a greater level of confidence in my ability to perform under pressure after the competition.

Cathy So, 3rd Place, Avenue Café & Bistro, University Avenue,
Toronto, ON
This is the second competition for Cathy So who is a barista at Avenue Café & Bistro. Opened in the summer of 2005, Avenue Café & Bistro is located in the downtown core at the corner of University and Dundas, the Avenue Cafe and Bistro combines sleek design and ambiance, with a wide array of
specialty sandwiches and menu items seldom found in the area. The cafe caters to a mostly business crowd that desires quality food quickly and at reasonable prices.. In addition, the Avenue Cafe, provides catering services to nearby offices. The Avenue Cafe offers its guests Illy Coffee and a vast
selection of specialty beverages such as smoothies. Guests are treated to a minimalistic-chic design. The white walls are adorned with cool designs, art, flat screen tv’s playing black and white classic films and funky music in the background. The Avenue Cafe always strives to deliver on its motto “Excite your Senses”. . Cathy’s signature beverage was “Plum it Up”, a mixture of plum powder, honey, milk and espresso.

Ivonne Ramirez, 3rd Place, Dolce Gelato & Cafe. 697 College St.,
Dolce Gelato is located in the heart of Little Italy has been opened to the public for over a year now. This gelato café have been managed by one of it’s owners, Ivonne Ramirez who started learning this trade and became a Barista five years ago. At Dolce Gelato & Café we proudly serve a blend of seven of the highest quality espresso beans to ensure a rich and creamy espresso we also offer 42 homemade gelato and sorbet flavors. Among them is the MENTA flavour which was used to make the signature drink “Bela Menta” for this year Canadian Eastern Regional Barista Competition .
Having started competing one year ago Ivonne finds the experience each time exciting and gratifying for being recognized this year with the 3rd place in this competitive field of being a barista in a City surrounded by so many excellent coffee shops.

Head Judge & Sensory Judge: Aaron Delazzer – Director of Coffee, Ethical Bean Coffee Roasters, Vancouver , BC

Technical Judges:
Les Kuan – Trainer, Canadian Barista Academy / Technical Director, Canadian National Barista Championship, Vancouver , BC

Michael Riesberry – Café Consultant, Zuccarini Importing Company, Toronto

Bill Herne – Coffee Consulting Specialists, Toronto

Krys Hines – Coffee Consultant, Toronto

Drew DeGeer – Senior Sales & Marketing Manager, Ce Organics

Sensory Judges:
Chris McDonald – Owner, chef of Cava Restaurant in Toronto

Wanda Beaver – President & Director of Product Development, Wanda’s Pie in the Sky, Toronto / Partner with Dinah Koo, Wanda’s in the Kitchen with Dinah. Cookbook author.

Sal Costanzo – President, Patera Marketing in Toronto

Sevan Istanboulian – President, Roaster – Café Mystique / Toi et Moi Cafe in Montreal

Baron Drobig – Malkhonig Canada

Master of Ceremonies: Edward Graham – Sales and Marketing Consultant for Zuccarini Importing

2007 Eastern Regional Judges Profile

Sensory Judges

Head Judge: Aaron De Lazzer is Director of Coffee @ Ethical Bean, a roaster/wholesaler in Vancouver , BC . He is a trainer with the Canadian Barista & Coffee Academy . He is an experienced cupper, roaster and is skilled in green coffee selection. He has many years experience in the industry as a consultant.

Bill Herne is a coffee consultant with over 20 years experience as a trainer, green bean buyer & roaster. Once a director of coffee at a leading coffee chain, Bill now specializes in coffee roasting, brand management coffee business start-ups.

Chris McDonald is the Executive Chef and co-owner of “Cava Restaurant”, and previously the owner and Chef of “Avalon” here in Toronto . He is considered to be one of the best chefs in North America . Cava was just nominated Toronto ’s best new restaurant by Toronto Life.

Wanda launched Wanda’s Pie in the Sky with her husband David Beaver in 1985. She has been baking with a passion ever since. In 2002 her cookbook Wanda’s Pie in the Sky was awarded Silver Medal in the “Cuisine Canada Cookbook of the Year” Competition. Today she does business from her two locations: her wholesale division serving Toronto ’s finest restaurants, cafes and gourmet shops, and a collaboration with Dinah Koo – one of Toronto ’s most respected caterers – called “Wanda’s in the Kitchen with Dinah” on Mt. Pleasant Avenue . Wanda teaches hands-on baking classes and spreads her enthusiasm for fresh baked desserts.

Sal Costanzo is President of Patera Group in Toronto , who distributes the La Marzocco, W MF and Promac lines of espresso machines, and Arcaffe coffees. Sal has been in the coffee industry since 1972.

Sevan Istanboulian is a Roaster from Montreal . He started in coffee 15 years ago with “Toi, Moi et Café”, a roaster/retailer. Last year Sevan established Montreal ’s Specialty Coffee Academy , to educate and train coffee professionals as well as newcomers to the industry. Sevan is a Canadian
Barista Championship Judge, a member of the W orld Barista Championship Technical Committee and a longtime member of the Specialty Coffee Association of America and The Roaster’s Guild.

Technical Judges

Les Kuan is the Technical Director of the Canadian National Barista Championships, and Instructor for the Canadian Barista Academy . He is also a consultant for retail and café start-ups. Les is still in denial about being in the coffee industry.

Michael Riesberry has been in the espresso industry for 15 years. He is a former café owner & operator. He has been a regional & national Barista Judge, Certified by Canadian Barista Championship for 3 years in both sensory and technical. Michael is currently employed by Canada’s first espresso machine importer – Zuccarini Importing in Toronto – as a Café Consultant, specializing in espresso bars.

Krys Hines is first & foremost a happily married father of a newborn baby girl. He is a former coffee roaster and retailer, with many years of espresso machine sales and technical support. Krys is an avid cyclist and a former bicycle designer & frame builder, and currently a consultant involved in
technical design and sales.

Drew DeGeer – Restaurateur, coffee consultant and DJ. He built the former Toronto landmark, “Triple X Diner”, where the pilot episode of the American TV show “Queer as Folk” was first shot, and he still runs the Triple X Diner Radio website. Currently, he is the Senior Sales & Marketing Manager for CE Organics, a Canadian company which is first in the world to manufacture a Certified Organic Fair Trade coffee syrup.

Master of Ceremonies: Edward Graham began working in foodservice at 15 years of age. In the 1980’s and ‘90s he owned 2 restaurants and operated 2 cafés. He was also a coffee roaster and retailer for 6 years and has trained many hundreds of people working in the gourmet coffee industry. He is currently a Sales & Marketing Consultant for Zuccarini Importing Company,
Canada ’s first espresso machine importer.

The easy points…

April 5, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorizedcanadianbarista @ 9:53 am

In our judges conference chambers, we often shake our heads at the easy points that are missed by competitors.  Some of this can be blamed for their unfamiliarity with the rules, but everything is actually written in the Canadian Barista Championship rules sheet.

“Clean work area at the start” is surprisingly, rarely scored high.  Maybe it’s the pressure of trying to get everything organized during prep time, but we technical judges are amazed at the amount of coffee grounds, and water drops left on the table, under the machine, on the machine.. etc..

Even worse are grinds on the forks of the grinder, or grinds in the doser throat..   Portafilters that have pucks left in them, or are unwiped are automatic deductions.

Dirty rags, ( bring another set of cloths to use during warmup, so you start with all clean cloths),  and my biggest pet peeve, dirty, lactose encrusted steam pitchers are typical mistakes.  Give them a good scrubbing with either a bryllo pad or some sort of cleaner.  This is something you should do regularly at your cafes anyways,   let alone just for competition.  And make sure they are dry, and empty at the start.

Oh.. and don’t forget the drip tray, and steam wand. We look at everything.

Easy sensory points that are often missed are things like all 4 drinks being served at the same time… same time means just that, at the same time.  Don’t finish and serve two, and then start on the next two.

Make sure all accessories are available,  and remember to wipe the little dribbles and spills on the saucers and cups.

Who knows, these easy points could be the deciding factor in a close competition.