For the second year in a row, the unassuming espresso wiz from Alberta pulled all the right shots for the judges at the Canadian Barista Championship, held at the Canadian Coffee & Tea Show just outside Toronto in late September.
By Jane Auster
It’s been a year of excitement and upheaval for Put, who recently left his post as a long-time barista at Calgary’s Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters to open his own business, Monogram Coffee, with fellow Phil & Sebastian graduates Jeremy Ho (also a Canadian Barista Champ) and Justin Eyford.
In the end, Put’s win might have boiled down to the fine Ethiopian coffee from Transcend Coffee or those hints of quince and tangerine in his signature drink, making the most of floral and citrus notes to appeal to the fine palates of the sensory judges.
The barista, who came in 11th at last year’s World Barista Championship, took away more than inspiration from the global stage.
“Everything you do at the Nationals you tear up and throw away at the Worlds,” says Put. “You’re under even more scrutiny, and your mistakes are pointed out.”
The barista has been in the regional and national barista championships for the last six years, but this is the first time he competed without Phil & Sebastian behind him (except as fans).
“It was tricky for me this year. We’re just starting out at Monogram Coffee, so I had fewer resources to practise and had to practise in a different way.”
He shared the stage in Toronto with a number of familiar faces – and friends – including second place winner Joshua Tarlo of Oakville, Ont.’s Reunion Island Coffee Roasters, third place winner Aimee Ferguson of Calgary’s Phil & Sebastian, and 13 other baristas, each of whom had 15 minutes to prepare four espressos, followed by four cappuccinos and four versions of a signature drink, to impress a panel of seven judges.
Next year it’s on to the Worlds in Seattle, arguably the world’s coffee capital, where Put will create an entirely new signature drink, playing off the season.
Winning Canadian Barista Championship Music
Michael Jackson and Timberlake (Love never felt so good)
“I always go for R&B. You have to find a balance between music that relaxes you, because you have to perform at your best, and that also appeals to the judge.”