The 2015 Canadian National Barista Championships took place last weekend, and Sprudge contributor Elyse Bouvier was on the scene. She captured Ben Put’s winning routine in-depth, and now she’s back with six of her favorite highlights of the event.

1. This coffee kombucha sig drink


CJ Yang of 49th Parallel in Vancouver made her own coffee kombucha to use in her signature drink. I asked her about it and she kindly shared her method. Using the Ethiopia Dumerso roasted by 49th Parallel, Ms. Yang made a Toddy cold brew concentrate. She then made her own SCOBY—the yeast and bacteria starter used to make kombucha—and added it to the cold brew. Then she let is sit for three days to ferment. On stage Yang added this to her espresso for her sig drink ending the whole process with a flourish!

2. Cocktail-inspired sig drinks galore!


I think we can probably agree that cocktail-inspired coffee drinks can be pretty great. The cocktail world is full of inspiration for coffee. There’s just something about that bartender flair that baristas are attracted to. Must be something to do with the beards. This year, several baristas not only used cocktail or bar glasses for their sig drinks, but pretty much just made a cocktail sans the alcohol. Nathaniel Fried from Pilot Coffee Roasters made a “Yellow Bourbon Sour” complete with a dry shake of egg whites that was good enough to place him 4th overall. It also included his coffee (Mercedes, Guatamala roasted by Pilot), grapefruit juice, and a garnish of ground coffee on top.


Competitor Keaton Ritchie’s cocktail sig drink was inspired by a sazerac with a guava juice rinse, peach bitters, espresso (El Cielito, Honduras roasted by 49th Parallel), cane sugar, and ice. Maybe not as much like a sazerac but sounds pretty delicious!

3. This Lego themed setup


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Jon Plett from Detour Coffee Roasters certainly had one of the most adventurous, outside-the-box table setups I’ve seen. Using the theme of Lego and GI Joe, Plett built a routine around adventure (GI Joe) and friendly (Lego).


Plett had a GI Joe box on stage, camo espresso saucers, and, finally, he made little scenes for each judge to serve the sig drink on.

4. It’s finally happened! Someone used a Keurig in competition


Josh Tarlo of Reunion Island Coffee Roasters made a pretty bold choice in using a Keurig for his competition. Mr. Tarlo had several custom flavour pods made up to brew on stage for his signature drink.


The flavours were cascara, lavender, cane sugar, and cocoa nibs which he added to his espresso, La Solidad, Guatemala. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen something quite so bizarre and inventive before in a Canadian competition. Apparently, the whole thing worked for him because Mr. Tarlo came 2nd overall!

5. The cutest little competition cart


Maybe it’s just because I was drawn in by the flashy coffee beacon and the lure of good coffee but I kind of loved Detour Coffee Roasters’ adorable camper-van mobile coffee setup. Complete with a La Marzocco GS/3 and Nuova Simonelli Mythos, and Anfim grinders, Detour acquired the mobile setup from a New Zealand couple who moved back home and now they use it to run a mobile bar at various events around town.


It’s full of super cute Canadian paraphernalia, maps, and plastic animals and friendly blokes who run it. I had a little tour inside and after hanging out in a trade show all day it was a welcome reprieve. Did I mention how cute it was?

6. Judges having a good time!


So technically judges are supposed to maintain a positive but neutral look on their face at all times–engaged and encouraging, but not betraying their internal reactions. But a few competitors are able to crack this, and this past weekend it was Andreas Adams from Rosso Coffee Roasters with his hat and glasses routine. Each judge was instructed throughout his presentation to don a hat for the customer perspective, glasses for industry side, and both for the meeting of the two. Mr. Adams charmed those judges right into a few smiles and here’s the proof.


Elyse Bouvier is a contributor based in Toronto. Read more Elyse Bouvier on Sprudge.

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