The emcee keeps bugging me!

Filed under: Uncategorized — canadianbarista @ 9:36 am

Every championship has an emcee,  to help translate the competition to the audience, especially to those who are unfamiliar with the format.

You can choose to have the emcee not talk to you directly during your performance, but you may find it advantageous to engage in some banter with the emcee during your performance.

Sometimes the emcee will do sort of a play by play as you go through some of the technical parts of drink building,  you don’t have to interact with him if you don’t feel like it.

The emcee will generally ask you the following directly, unless told otherwise:

A: where do you work?

B:  How long have you been a barista?

C:  What espresso are you using ( which will give you an opportunity to go into the blend characteristics, and the taste profile)

D:  What is your specialty drink?

You can always tell the emcee that you are going to be quiet for a bit to concentrate, if you need to, or you can also tell him to talk to you and ask you questions, if you are nervous.  You are in control.   And yes,  you can ask for the time.

Keeping things clean…

Filed under: Uncategorized — canadianbarista @ 8:56 am

The World Barista Championships were originally designed to teach habits that work in the real world cafe situations.   For the most part, the skills reinforced are still relevant.

Cleaning as you work, is one of these important skills.  The best way to accomplish this is to have dedicated cloths for different purposes, which is what judges look for in.. “proper use of cloths”

The most important cloth is your steam wand cloth.   This cloth is to clean the steam wand only, and should be kept in one place, so you won’t use it to clean anything else.   The steamwand is the last thing to touch your drink,  and wiping it with a cloth used to wipe the floor isn’t a good idea.

There should be a seperate slightly damp cloth to ” dry/clean filter basket”, this cloth should not be used to wipe the counter.  A good place for this cloth is on your apron belt.

You should also have another cloth to wipe the counter.

Some baristas keep a cloth on the drip tray just to clean the drip tray.

Others have another cloth that sits on the counter simply to wipe drips on cups, and to dab the bottom of the cups, before they go on the saucer.

Another great tool to keeping the table top clean is a brush, to brush loose grounds into your knockbox, or garbage can.  The wider the brush, the more real estate you can cover in one sweep.

If you can incorporate cleaning during your routine,  especially during the times you are just waiting around for your shots to finish, this is a great way to utilize your time and score high points for cleanliness at the finish.

If you finish with time to spare, you can really polish up the machine for extra points.

Importance of dosing..

April 1, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — canadianbarista @ 10:24 am

One of the most common faults we see in baristas’ performances is inconsistent shotmaking.   While making their 4 espresso,  one set of shots run 25 seconds for 3 oz,  while the next set is lightning quick at 17 seconds.  What happened here?

It’s possible that a sudden tropical front invaded the competition stage, thus changing the relative humidity, causing the grounds to swell, thus creating more space between coffee particles, causing the quicker extraction.   Possible, but unlikely, given the tiny gap between the two sets of shots.  Yet, how many times have we seen baristas immediately try and dial in a new grind in the middle of their performance?

A more likely suspect is dosing.

With the pressure of two technical judges hovering over them, a 15 minute time clock,  mom and dad in the audience, we can tighten up, and  change our routine.  This will vary our dose.  If we tap the portafilter on the grinder forks just a little too hard while dosing, or use a little more downward pressure with our fingers while distributing, we can very easily work in a little more ( or less) coffee into the filter basket.

A fraction of a  gram is all it takes to throw the shot times off, depending on the coarseness of the grind.

The technical judges watch every aspect of your dosing and tamping technique, looking for a repeating, consistent method.  What they observe will be backed up by the shot times, and the density of the puck after extraction ( that’s what they are feeling when they poke their fat little fingers into your pucks) .

So remember,  keep your dosing consistent.  The technical scoresheet itself highlights this, because you are marked on ” CONSISTENT dosing and tamping.

The best competitors will have shots of equal volumes, equal extraction times, and pucks that feel the same density.  So make sure you rule out a dosing problem before you hit the panic button and adjust that grind.


March 29, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — canadianbarista @ 9:22 am

The new rules for the 2007 Canadian Regional Championships should be up by now.

Canada was the first country to adopt the 2007 rules, using them in the 2006 National finals in Vancouver, thanks to John Sanders, from Hines/Origins coffee, who snuck us an advanced copy of the rules.

Everyone should read the new rules thoroughly and post your questions to this blog,  but I will give a quick synopsis of some of the major changes.

1. Scoring system changes  Basically the scoresheet has been changed to put less weighting on subjective items such as barista attire, and overall impression, and more emphasis on taste, and technical performance.  I would spell it out in more detail, but I want you all to read the new rules ( evil laugh).

2.  Setting up Judge’s table ahead of time.  Yes, you are now permitted to use a portion of your 15 minute set up time to set up your presentation on the judge’s table BEFORE your routine begins.

Be warned, that if you choose to do this, you will be eating into your warm-up time, so this will be a trade-off you will have to decide on your own.

Competitors however, are not permitted to fill water glasses until the presentation officially starts.

There are more changes, to proper cups, milk waste, etc.  so please read these sections carefully.  Overall, the point total will be less, so scores should be lower on the whole.  However, seeing that this is our third competition held in Toronto, I expect to see scores increase as our East Coast talent gains more experience.


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

Les Kuan – Trainer, Canadian Barista & Coffee Academy / Technical Director, Canadian National Barista Championship, Vancouver, BC

Bill Herne – Coffee Consulting Specialists, Toronto

Chris McDonald – 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

Michael Riesberry –Café Consultant, Zuccarini Importing, Toronto

Krys Hines – Former coffee roaster, barista, espresso machine sales & service technician 

Drew DeGeer – Senior Sales & Marketing Manager, CE Organic Syrups 

Sal Costanzo – Patera Marketing in Toronto

Sevan Istanboulian – Owner, Café Mystique Roasters / Toi et Moi Cafe in Montreal

Baron Drobig –                     Malkhonig Canada


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.


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.

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.

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. 

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. 

Sal Costanzo is President of Patera Group in Toronto, who distributes the La Marzocco, WMF 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 World Barista Championship Technical Committee and a longtime member of the Specialty Coffee Association of America and The Roaster’s Guild.