The Prairies Regional Barista Competition this year was anything but low-energy and dull. In fact, the coffee was a-pulling, the crowds were a-cheering, and tunes were a-pumping!
First of all, thank you SO much to everyone who came out to support not only the Phil & Sebastian competitors — who, ahem!, finished 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 6th! — but all the amazing baristas from Transcend Coffee, Fratello, Insomnia, Beano, and Cafe Haven. I think this year was the best yet (and I’m only mildly biased).
As this was personally my first year competing, I have a really different perspective on the whole competition… and a newfound respect for all the hours and hard work that goes into a successful set. This is one reason it’s such an honour to work with Ben Put, who competed — and won! — for the second year in a row. He’s meticulous, passionate, and very, very talented. I’m very excited to see him represent at the Nationals in Toronto in September.
Another veteran competitor, Chris Tellez (5th place), won the Eastern Regionals last year, was such a joy to see perform. Unlike me, Chris is a freestyler with lots of style and seems to be just born to be in front of a crowd. His set had a ton of charisma and creativity. Not only that, but word on the street is, his coffee tasted amazing!
Last but not least, it was Jeremy Ho’s (3rd place) first year at Regionals but you’d never guess it. He’s super technical but also easily the most energetic and outwardly passionate out of all of the competitors this year. I never get tired of seeing how excited Jeremy gets when he’s presented with a good coffee! It was really amazing to see him do so well this year and can’t wait to see his passion carry into Nationals!
And what about me, Elyse Bouvier (6th place)? I’ve been a bit of a competition junky the last few years, following the competitors to Montreal and Vancouver, but this was also my first year being on the other side of the scene. I have to say, I loved it! It was just such an honour to be included in among baristas that I really admire and feel like I could learn so much from. It was both terrifying and exhilarating — this is what I mean by post-comp withdrawal — to put what you know about coffee and how much you care about it, all into one neat 15 minute package. In the end, I was really happy with my performance and you’ll definitely see me next year!
The final results:
1st place: Ben Put, Phil & Sebastian – 648 points
2nd place: Josh Hockin, Transcend Coffee – 628.5 points
3rd place: Jeremy Ho, Phil & Sebastian – 616 points
4th place: Joel May, Fratello – 610.5 points
5th place: Chris Tellez, Phil & Sebastian – 605.5 points
If you weren’t able to make it out, you can catch (most) of the footage here.
If you want to see Ben’s feature on GlobalTV you can watch it here.
You can see shots from the day on our Facebook page here.