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The Canadian Coffee & Tea Show brews foodservice success strategies

It was a three-peat in more ways than one at the 2015 Canadian Barista Championship, October 4th and 5th at the Canadian Coffee and Tea Show in Vancouver.

by Lawrence Herzog

Photography by Lawrence Herzog

Calgary Barista Ben Put won the title for the third straight time, and baristas from the Alberta city took the top three spots.

Put chalked up his win to experience, team support and delicious coffee. “Competition can be really unnerving because it is such a foreign environment. This was the first competition where I felt completely comfortable and it made competing easier and more enjoyable. Every year I have a team of people helping me prepare, set up, and taste. I would never have won without them.”

For his winning presentation, Put used Wote Konga, an Ethiopian coffee from Yirgacheffe. “It has lots of coffee sourced and roasted by Edmonton’s Transcend Coffee. “It has lots of juicy peach and citrus, with nice black tea undertones. I always have a soft spot for Ethiopian coffee, especially this style.”

Put will now represent Canada at the World Barista Championship in Dublin, Ireland in June. Vancouver Barista Ian Chagunda of Matchstick Coffee claimed the title of Canadian Latte Art Champion. Chagunda will compete in the World Latte Art Championship in Shanghai, China, next March. (Watch for our feature on Ian in our next issue!)

Quenching a thirst for good information

There’s a lot of money to be made in tea and coffee, and learning how to take better advantage of the opportunities was a top motivation for foodservice operators who attended the Vancouver show. Attendees and exhibitors came together to share expertise, nurture relationships, and make connections to build success.

The roster included hands-on workshops and seminars, coffee and tea industry updates, business roundtables, sessions on cupping, winning cocktails, menus, sustainability and more. As tea and coffee make their way into new locations with more avenues for sales, opportunities are plentiful and suppliers are finding new buyers ready for their products.

“The Canadian Coffee and Tea Show has been instrumental in our growth and development for our business,” says Brian Nicholas of Organic Products Trading Company. “Whether we meet and greet potential new customers, introduce ourselves to current clients, visit with our local warehouse contacts or even spend time with other vendors, it’s imperative for us to be there. We’re proud to be a long standing, participating vendor of the Canadian Coffee and Tea Show and look forward to many more.”

Foodservice and café operators from across Canada made the trip to Vancouver for the show. They included James Magnus-Johnston, co-owner of Fools & Horses Coffee in Winnipeg. “The show helped make connections and inspire ideas that we never would have had on our own.”

Show veteran Jim Townley of Fresh Cup Roastery Café in Saanichton, BC, says he finds inspiration every year. “It’s great to see the continued innovation that the vendors bring to the show floor. I find the show a catalyst for challenging my current position on all things café related to make sure I don’t stagnate in a very fluid industry.”

Quality and attention to great service

Growth in specialty tea is helping to drive sales in retail and foodservice channels, Louise Roberge, president of the Tea Association of Canada, told a packed session. “Smart operators are taking advantage of the public appetite for quality tea, well served. Total servings of hot and iced tea in Canada are about 550 million per year, and that’s a big market. On average, Canadians consume 6.1 cups of tea a week, and they are drinking more loose leaf and pod teas.”

Lesya Balych-Cooper, interim president of the Coffee Association of Canada, says operators who are successful with coffee bring a passion and commitment to excellence to everything they do. “Consumers are looking for different types of coffee experiences, whether it’s in the coffee itself, how it is made and the environment in which it is served. There are more choices now than ever before.”

With new ownership and investment along with exciting new features, the show is gearing up to return to Toronto’s International Centre on September 25 and 26, 2016. “We’re coming off the most successful Toronto event in 2014 and the highest-attended and most successful Vancouver show in 2015,” says Michael Cronin, general manager of Stagnito Business Information, the show’s owner. “We’re gaining momentum with new features like the latte art championship as well as Coffee in Good Spirits on top of the Canadian Barista Championship. We’re very excited about the next show in Toronto.”

For more information, check out
Canadian Barista Championship Top 6

1. Ben Put, Monogram Coffee, Calgary, 493.5 points
2. Chris Tellez, Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, Calgary, 487 points
3. Amy Ferguson, Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, Calgary, 448.5 points
4. Vica Pelivan, de Mello Palheta Coffee Roasters, Toronto, 445 points
5. David Kim, Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, Calgary, 419.5 points
6. Jill Hoff, Monogram Coffee, Calgary, 407.6 points

Ben Put’s winning music playlist:

 Warm on a Cold Night by Honne
 Teenage Dream by Katy Perry
 I Wish I was a Chair by Phony Ppl
 Downtown by Macklemore

Canadian Latte Art Championship Top 3

1. Ian Chagunda, Matchstick Coffee, Vancouver
2. Ben Put, Monogram Coffee, Calgary
3. Bruce Ly, Neo Coffee, Toronto