The Manitoba coffee scene has positively exploded in the past 3 years; first with the opening of Jonny's Java in Winkler and then with the opening of Parlour in Winnipeg a year or two later. Since the Manitoba scene had evolved so much it made sense for the province to host the 2014 Prairie Region Barista Competition (PRBC) which took place in Winnipeg from August 22-24, 2014. This is the first time the PRBC was outside of Alberta!
For those of you are not aware of barista competitions they are an opportunity for baristas in the specialty coffee industry to showcase their presentation skills, knowledge of the coffee they prepare, coffee making technique, waste and how the coffee tastes. Barista competitions are some what similar to bartending competitions. Barista's must compete at the regional level and place in the top 4 in order to go on to the Nationals. The winner of the Nationals goes on to compete at the worlds!
Although the competition is the main event the whole weekend is filled with people from the industry coming together to build relationships through drinks, meals and cafe crawls.
The 2014 PRBC was also the first time that any competitors from Manitoba competed. One of the competitors was Colton Rempel of Jonny's Java. From working at Jonny's Java colton had the opportunity to try many different coffees roasted by Other Brother Roasters and when the time came to choose a roaster to represent at the competition he approached Other Brother to work on sourcing and roasting a coffee for the PRBC.
The coffee that was chosen was a coffee from Mexico from Finca Cassandra. It's very unusual to have a Mexican coffee being represented at a competition as Mexico hasn't been known, until recently, of having truly exceptional coffees. We went through several different roast profiles with Colton in order to narrow in on a roast that highlighted the coffees sweetness in milk and savouriness as an espresso shot.
Although Colton did the coffee and himself proud with a spectacular routine it unfortunately wasn't enough to put him into the top four.
As a company we had to push our roasting further than we had before in order to roast coffee that would be used in the competing level and we want to thank Colton for working with us and representing our coffee at the PRBC.
Colton thinking about his routine at one of his many late night practice sessions
The sensor judges are going through "calibration" to ensure they are all scoring the coffee equally
Colton (second from right) standing on stage while the winners are being announced
Further reading: You can read an interview between Colton and Jonny's Java here