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Reports From the Road
Canadian Coffee & Tea Expo 2010 Day 1
Author: Mark Prince
Posted: September 25, 2010
Article rating: 8.9
feedback: (6) comments | read | write

Welcome to beautiful downtown Toron... erm, welcome to Mississauga and the area around Pearson International Airport, (affectionately known as airportland by us trade show attendees) where the 2010 Canadian Coffee and Tea Show is being held.

During these show reports, I'll try to tell you a bit about the competitions going on and perhaps do a feature interview or two with a few of the people showcasing their products and skills at the expo. Stay tuned for updated reports throughout the day!


 
The Trade Show
Posted by Mark Prince, 8:00am Permalink to this blog entry

I might as well get this out of the way - I am not happy to be attending a trade show out at the airport in the way off suburbs of Toronto. And I'm not enthusiastic about the attendance to take place at the Canadian Barista Championships. The competition is in the back of the showcase hall so you pretty much have to pay to attend the show in order to watch the barista competition. This combination (trade show way out in the boonies, lack of access) means it is not consumer / visitor / public friendly at all.

This is the only bitching I will do about this, but I need to set this up right away. Barista competitions need to be open to the public.

 
The Show Floor
Posted by Mark Prince, 9:40am Permalink to this blog entry

As the trade show opens, I notice traffic is okay, not great, but not dead either. I see a lot of booths that I want to write about and will, most likely tomorrow. They include Social Coffee Company, Wicked Distribution / Intelligentsia, Transcend's booth, a few Toronto area coffee roasters, and one or two other places (Krups has an interesting display). Internet connectivity is, as per usual for trade shows - in other words, horrible. I'm using my iPhone's tethering ability, but uploading images is painfully slow. I may have to stick to text entries for the day, then upload photos this evening from the hotel.

The barista competition is going on and I'd have to say this year's lineup is the strongest of all time as far as the CNBC goes. I just got a look at Rob Kettner's setup and it is staggering. Judges will be looking at full taste profiles right in front of them as part of their stage setup, and he's using all custom-wood devices including cold drip brewers. I'll put some photos up this evening.

I'm getting a bit psyched up for my entry into the cup tasters' competition, coming up in about 1 hour. More later. I have a heap of photos and more proper entries, but I may have to upload them later today.

 
Social Coffee Company
Posted by Mark Prince, 9:50am Permalink to this blog entry

Just had a short visit at Social Coffee Company's booth, where a Slayer is set up and the team is pulling many, many shots. It is one of the best looking booths at the show, and probably one of the better shots of espresso available here today, outside of the Barista Championship going on.

Steve Soupanthong started this company in the spring of 2010, but with a heap of research and a good startup budget, and he's rolled with it - they took 2nd at a roaster's competition at this year's SCAA show, and more and more quality driven cafes are buying his coffees, including Vancouver's Bump n' Grind.

Social is showing off their single origin coffees as well as the Slayer here at the show, but a manual pour over drip station is also featured.

Photos coming later today.

 
Rob Kettner's Barista Competition Setup
Posted by Mark Prince, 10:30am Permalink to this blog entry

Just saw Rob Kettner's barista setup for his competition round at the Canadian Barista Championships, and to say the least, his setup alone is the belle of the ball. Check out these photos to see the judges' presentation setup showing tasting parameters and especially the cold brew tower that Rob had custom made. Awesome.

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Judges' serving tray
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Taste graph details
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Custom Cold Brew
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Setup
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The details
 
Cup Tasters'  Championship Pt. 1
Posted by Mark Prince, 11:30am Permalink to this blog entry

The cup tasters' championship (the first time the Canadian one was actually held in Canada) is about to get underway. Initially there were twelve competitors, but today we found out there is actually sixteen, which is good - it widens up the field a bit.

Favourites going in (my own opinion) are Matthew Lee from Manic Coffee, Amber Fox from Intelli/Ecco, Steve Soupanthong from Social Coffee Company, Laura Perry from Bridgehead in Ottawa, Barrett Jones from 49th Parallel, and Josh Del Sol.

I am not a favourite. (at least I don't deserve to be).

We'll see how it goes. My round is round two, in probably 45 minutes. Some photos from the setup:

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The Cups
The cups all set up in the back for pouring and getting ready to carry out.
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The Machine
Technivorms are being used to brew all the coffees.
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Sammy
Sammy predicted he would win the night before - we'll see how he does.
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Sammy Piccolo
Sammy going through round one - this is just the start.
 
Cup Tasters'  Championship Pt. 2
Posted by Mark Prince, 2:05pm Permalink to this blog entry

Well the cup taster's championship first round is over. There were some amazing people up there today: Pat Russel of 2nd Cup Coffee blazed through his first round, getting 7 right in 3:48, and Steve from Social Coffee Company also scored 7 out of 8 (the two highest scores) but in around 7 minutes.

There was some drama. In my round, one of the competitors had two of his cups removed before they could be checked. Peter Burbrdge got 4 out of 6, and could have had 6 out of 8 - we'll never know; in the last round, Matthew Lee of Manic got an amazing 6 out of 7 right, and one of his cups was also removed before it could be counted. Just CRAZY. Very enthusiastic runners happening there.

Because of this, Matthew, with a potential for 7 out of 8, advances to the finals (and now they're going with five in the finals, not four).

Barrett Jones, last year's winner, is out of the finals, scoring 5 out of 8. Sammy Piccolo took 7:55 to get 4 out of 8 right. Amber Fox did very well, as did Laura Perry and several other favourites.

Yours truly did pretty dismal - 4 out of 8, but I did it in 4:02 (I think - it was a bit of a rushed scene). I have no one to blame but myself. I went with first, gut instinct on the first four cups and after a quick cuppers slurp, picked the coffees I thought were different - I only got one of them right. One the next four on the table, I didn't know cups 5, cups 6, and cups 8, so I deferred those; Cups 7 I went with gut again on first slurp - and got that wrong.

I went back to cups 5, 6 and 8, and my second pass I drank the coffees more than just slurping. That drinking action, washing the coffee on the roof of my mouth, resulted in getting all three right (at least thats what I remember). And the bad thing is this - in practice, I found I was most accurate with the slurp + drink combo. Why I didn't do it for the majority of the cups today I don't know, but gut instinct let me down. What was really interesting was how I got nervous after the fourth cup - I was calm and cool for the first four. And I got 3 out of the last four correct. Weird.

I am not sure of my finished place, but I believe I'm 8 or 9th. My only saving grace is I finished pretty quick - I think I was the third or fourth fastest. Several people scored 4, and a few scored 3. There were surprisingly few 5s, a couple of 6s, and two 7s. No eights. Finals go tomorrow.

Here's more photos of the event.

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Pat Russell
Pat was the highest scorer of the day, getting 7 right in 3:48. Crazy time and quite impressive.
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Lisa Rotenburg
Lisa, from RocketFuelCoffee.com was very happy with her 6 out of 8 score in 5:28.
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Amber Fox
Amber Fox of Ecco Caffe during her round.
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Steve Soupanthong
Steve was the only other competitor to score 7 out of 8 correctly. Quite impressive!
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Laura Perry
Laura from Bridgehead during her round.
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Matt Lee
Matt Lee got 6 out of 7 correct. The runners accidentally picked up his 8th cup choice before it could be checked. Matt got a pass into the finals because of this.
 
Detour Coffee Roasters
Posted by Mark Prince, 2:50pm Permalink to this blog entry

Sometimes at trade shows I luck out and find an exciting new roaster. At this show, I found three - one I knew about, and two I hadn't heard of before. One of these roasters is Detour Coffee Roasters based in Dundas and Burlington, Ontario.

I was walking by the booth and two coffee names jumped out, making me do a double take: Finca Alaska and Finca La Montana. Both of these coffees are no slouches, so it was definitely a booth to drop by. I met with Geoff Woodley (Roaster) and Kaelin McCowan (owner) at their booth and found out about their roastery, where their coffees come from, their philosophy and more.

"We source our coffees from Mercanta, Cafe Imports, Kaffa Coffee and others." said McCowan. "I got my start by being a CoffeeGeek - I still am - and I just started roasting at home, using the dogbowl, heatgun coffee roasting method. I got really into it and thought there might more to this... I bought a 12 kilo Deitrich roaster outside of Seattle in a town called Bremerton, and I drove it across Canada in a truck and started up the business."

On roast philosophy, McCowan said "our philosophy is pretty simple - we want to highlight the coffee and varietal as best as I can; we want to highlight that varietal character, but keep the coffee approachable and accessible; when I started roasting, I was roasting  a bit darker - after all Dundas is a bit of of a challenging market, so as time has gone on, I've lightened things up and moved coffees towards the coffee's profile and less from the roast profile."

Early on, Detour was a focused roaster wholesaler, but they are working on opening a new cafe - the roastery changed location and moved to a more industrial setting, but they are opening a cafe in the back of the building and plan on that being a showcase for their products more than a fully independent cafe.

Here's some photos from the booth.

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Kaelin McCowan, Owner of Detour Coffee Roasters
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Punch Buggy Espresso Blend
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Finca La Montana, Finca Alaska
 
Canadian Barista Championships Day 1 Finalists
Posted by Mark Prince, 7:45pm Permalink to this blog entry

Just a quick update to tell you who is in the finals for the Canadian Barista Championships. In no particular order:

Rob Kettner, Fernwood Coffee
Jeremy Ho, Phil & Sebastian Coffee
Joel May, Fratello Coffee
Phil Hong, Caffe Artigiano
Ben Put, Phil & Sebastian Coffee
Cheryl Wright, Caffe Artigiano

It's interesting (and personally, a bit sad) to see that all the finalists are from Western Canada. I would have liked to see a few east coasters in the mix. Next year!

Article rating: 8.9
Author: Mark Prince
Posted: September 25, 2010
feedback: (6) comments | read | write
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