Some Impressions on the Canadian National Barista Competition

October 31, 2008

It’s taken me a while to get this entry put together.  But here are some thoughts from competing in the Canadian National Barista Competition held in Montreal this year.

I need to begin by thanking the team that I had behind me, from the brothers working with me to create the blend, to Mike our Master Roaster I worked closely with to produce the roast we took, and to all the friends and family who supported me through the experience.  I literally could not have done it without you

I also need to acknowledge the competitors.  One and all they are a class act and I consider my self EXTRMELY fortunate to count myself among their number.  It’s very nice to be able to put faces to the names and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again and to keeping in touch.

I hate to admit that I did not watch any of the other competitors on the day of the finals, I was going last and it was all I could do to keep my wits about me listening to them.

I for one am ecstatic at finishing third over all at the National level.  Particularly in light of the fact that it was our first venture into the competitive Barista world, and only my second year in the coffee industry.  I just goes to show what a great team and a lot of passion can do.

I’m particularly proud of the fact that despite my long winded, “time eating” talking, and a few other bobbles, the Espresso blend we chose (Ethiopian Kembata, Sumatra Tabu Jamu and Brazil Sete Cachoeiras) came through and shone as the wonderful Espresso that it is.  For myself, I love the fact that this coffee, that I felt such a passion for, would lend itself so well to becoming a truly delightful cup.

We’ve (any Barista worth anything) all said it and we all believe, that we are the last in a long line of individuals who have planted, cultivated, picked, processed, sorted, chosen,  cupped, profiled, roasted and prepared the last great affordable personal luxury.  More importantly we are the ones in the spot light that can champion all the others in the line and give them a voice.  It’s our privilege to work with and for such people.

All told, this has been a phenomenal experience, with a ton of lessons learned that will be brought to those around us.  Lessons that include a dramatic elevation in the knowledge of the origins and the impact, care and attention during processing have, to all of us at Fratello improving our ability to profile and create new blends.  We’re looking forward to the upcoming year and can’t wait to see what the future holds.  If any of you thought that this year was a close year, wait till next year.  The 14 (then the 6 in the finals) are nothing more than the tip of the iceberg that is the coffee industry…