Welcome to the first-ever Canadian national latte art competition! This event debuted last weekend as part of the Canadian Barista Championships and was spearheaded by our partners at Dalla Corte, along with Toi Moi & Cafe and Julia Barber of Reg Barber Enterprises. The debut 2014 edition of the Canadian Latte Art Competition was staged as a pilot event of sorts, with the intention of laying the groundwork a World Coffee Events (WCE) certified Canadian Latte Art Championship in 2015.
The lack of WCE certification means that this event doesn't yet feed into the World Latte Art Championships, happening this year in Gothenburg, Sweden. However, with entering Canada into the WLAC in 2015 as a goal, the format of this year’s event mimicked much of the WLAC (including the use of WLAC judging sheets), but with some changes for simplicity’s sake.
At the start of day one, each competitor had six minutes to produce a “designer pour”, which was then photographed. Competitors would be expected to replicate that pour on day two–think of it as the latte art equivalent of a game of H-O-R-S-E. That same afternoon, competitors went head-to-head in rounds with each competitor pouring one macchiato, one latte, and one designer drink. The winner from each head's up round would move on to day two.
Overall, twelve baristas signed up for this pilot event, with six advancing to the day two finals. In the finals round, each person poured two matching drinks in each category — macchiato, latte, and designer — while having to reproduce their designer pour from the first day.
The winner of Canada’s first official Latte Art Competition was Chris Tellez of Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters. Mr. Tellez, who currently resides in Toronto, is one of Phil & Sebastian’s wholesale managers and has been a part of the Canadian competition scene for many years. In fact, he was also the winner of the Canadian Central Barista Competition this year and competed on the first day at the Canadian National Barista Competition.
I chatted briefly with Tellez about his win and what he thought of the inaugural year of the competition, and he was enthusiastic about the possibilities for upcoming years of this competition. Mr. Tellez assured me he’d be back again to defend his title next year, particularly if it was sanctioned. “Next year I’m hoping we get a bigger and more exciting turnout! It was really amazing how the event organizers did it though. Dalla Corte had, like, five machines set up; there were volunteers. They even brought in Sarah Allen! [of Barista Magazine]” whom Tellez tells me it was a highlight to meet.
There seemed to be a theme across all CNBC events this year of simplicity in presentations, and Chris Tellez was no exception. “I get really nervous when I pour,” he told me, “so I had to come up with an idea that I knew I could execute. In latte art competitions I’ve watched before, it’s always the simpler design executed well that wins. But basically, I had to just keep it simple because I get nervous!”
Elyse Bouvier is a Sprudge.com contributor based in Toronto. Read more Elyse Bouvier on Sprudge.
Photos by Vanessa Ng, courtesy of Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, unless otherwise noted.