Highlights from the 2024 Canadian Barista Championships in Montreal

Posted by Ben Cram on

In mid March, I had the incredible opportunity to participate as a sensory judge at the Canadian Barista Championships in Montreal. Being selected to judge in the finals on Sunday was an immense honor, and it was a week filled with excitement, innovation, and exceptional coffee. 

Throughout the event, I had the privilege of tasting some of the finest coffees currently being roasted in Canada. The diversity of flavors, techniques, and presentations was truly remarkable. But what stood out the most were the presentations that challenged the traditional "rules" of specialty coffee. 

One particular competitor caught everyone's attention by pulling the much talked about "turbo shot." This unconventional approach to espresso extraction challenges the status quo and sparked a lot of discussions among the judges. It was fascinating to witness firsthand how innovation is reshaping the boundaries of our industry. 

In addition to the turbo shot, there was also talk of re-steaming previously steamed milk, a practice that intrigued many of us. The environmental and financial significance of this could be game changing for cafes. These baristas reminded us that there's always room for exploration and evolution in the world of coffee. 

One of the most inspiring aspects of the championships was witnessing the enthusiasm and drive of the younger generation of coffee professionals. Their passion for coffee was infectious, and it was truly refreshing to see them pushing the envelope and challenging conventions. (And as hosts, putting on a great event) 


2024 Canadian Barista Championships


Credit must be given to the organizing committee for their exceptional work in putting together and running the event seamlessly. (SCA Canada crew, Origine 117 family of businesses, Genius coffee all deserve applause) Their dedication and attention to detail ensured that both competitors and judges had an unforgettable experience. 

The winner, Nelson Phu of Rosso Coffee Roasters, gave us a very personal presentation that linked the art of storytelling to coffee and customer service. The coffee was phenomenal and the story he told, including a home made pop up story book, was engaging and informative. Nelson will make an excellent ambassador for Canadian coffee on the world stage in Korea this May. 

Overall, my experience at the Canadian Barista Championships was one to remember. Over the years I’ve attended a ton of competitions and this was one of the best run and most collaborative comps I’ve ever been to. It was a celebration of creativity, skill, and camaraderie within the coffee community. As the industry continues to evolve, events like these serve as a reminder of the limitless possibilities that lie ahead.

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