In October, two of our baristas, Benjamin Put and Megan Feniak, qualified and competed in the 2013 Canadian National Barista Championship in Vancouver. I had the honour of coaching and watching both Ben and Megan through their preparation and competition and could not be more proud with how well they did.
Megan did an incredible job finishing 4th, and as such, is the highest-ranked female barista in Canada! This is extremely impressive as it was her first year competing. I loved her routine because it was a very genuine and unique experience for the judges. Megan had each judge pick a colour that they thought best described the acidity, sweetness, body and flavour. She then matched a specific ingredient to those colours to build the final signature drink that represented their shared experiences with her coffee. The signature drink had many potential combinations that she had to be ready for and she pulled it off effortlessly.
I’m so happy for Benjamin Put, our Director of Coffee Quality, who took home the 2013 Canadian National Barista Championship. It is the second year in a row that a Phil & Sebastian barista won the National Championship. Ben left his mark on the competition by emphatically winning by the largest margin in Canadian competition history: 100 points.
Ben’s routine was focused on showcasing the high and low notes in coffee. In typical Ben fashion, the routine was filled with great amounts of technical difficulty and conceptual innovation. He highlighted the complexity of a single shot of espresso by physically separating the high note and low note layers, pairing espresso with different water compositions and effervescences, and even sorting the coffee’s variety size. Ben’s winning signature drink paired high and low note versions of the same three ingredients (peach, tea, sugar) with high and low TDS% espresso. He served two drinks: one warm, rich and full of low notes, and the other vibrant and juicy, with high notes.
Having international competition experience myself, I can confidently say that Ben’s routine was one of the most innovative and conceptually complex routines I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Coaching Ben, I witnessed the dedication and sheer number of hours he put into preparing for competition. Not only did he spend a great deal of time refining his technique, trying many iterations of his drink, practicing his signature “smiley-face” latte art, and rehearsing his routine until the early morning but he was also responsible for developing the roast profile of his espresso, the Ethiopian Gedeb. Having finished 2nd at Nationals for three years in a row, there is no one more deserving in my own biased opinion to be the 2013 National Champion. Ben has always been an inspiration to me through his gracious interactions with customers, his ability to excite others about coffee, and his brilliant approach to coffee. It was a special moment, for me, to hand over the trophy to Ben and I could not think of a better representative for Canada.
Thanks to Tara Put for all the photos!