Day 1 - Competing at the Canadian National Barista Championship
This weekend I will be competing in the Canadian National Barista Champion. I am excited to be in Toronto for, what I believe, is an important industry building event. I will do my best to give day by day updates of my experience at the competition. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the format of a barista competition, Sprudge has written a really helpful guide.
This is my sixth year of competition. Every year I tell myself that I will not compete again. It takes too much time, too much money, and is a roller coaster of emotions. For some reason, every time registration opens for the first competition of the year, those feelings and reasons go out the window and I find myself paying the nonrefundable registration fee without even really thinking about it (or asking my wife, oops). Needless to say, competition has become a part of my life over the past 6 years and I find myself irresistibly drawn to it. As I post over the next few days, I hope to share some of the reasons I compete.
I landed in Toronto yesterday (yes, I came to a competition three days before it started). With 50lbs of glassware flying at 35000ft, you have to assume that something is going to break. If you happen to break a signature drink glass it is a scramble to find one because these are often unique and expensive. Coming out a couple days early gives me the chance to replace anything that has broken. Thankfully, the only thing that broke was a cappuccino cup.
I spent yesterday with Tim and Michelle Houghton. Tim was formerly the roaster at Phil & Sebastian. He is currently in charge of quality control at M-Sqaure, a new shop in Toronto pulling P&S and Bows & Arrows. Tim and Michelle made me my first gluten free ramen of my life last night! They are also going to take me to some of their favourite coffee shops this weekend. Meeting with baristas from across the country is one of the best things about barista competitions. You gain new insights into coffee, learn about the industry in different cities, and make lifelong friends. It is an interesting dynamic that the people that you are competing against are the very ones buying you drinks and making you food.
Today and tomorrow, I will spend my time researching different milks to use for my cappuccinos and tasting my competition coffees on Toronto’s water (water composition has a huge effect on what is extracted from coffee, but more on that in another post).
I compete this Sunday at 12:15 EST. Stay tuned to this blog, as well as our Twitter and Instagram for updates throughout the weekend.
Although I have been turned down by many different reasons and people about competing, but competition has always been a goal of mine as a barista.