They are shaking things up in St. Thomas, Ont. at the Specialty Coffee Association's eastern qualifier for Canada's top baristas.
“Pretty much like your own Ted Talk and coffee competition at the same time,” says 22-year-old competitor Rachael Helm.
Some of the best baristas in Canada have travelled to the Railway City to showcase their skills, innovative practices and amazing coffee.
“These are people who are analytical,” says Dr. Christopher Hendon, University of Oregon assistant professor of chemistry and a coffee scholar.
“They take great care in measuring mass of coffee in, and mass of water out, using the machine to the best of its capabilities.”
Hendon describes the coffees as “super high end” and “like nothing you’ve ever had before.”
St. Thomas' Maria Fiallos, who co-owns Las Chicas del Café with her sister Valeria, had a vision to bring this event outside a major Canadian city for the first time.
“They have to brew an espresso, a milk drink...and then they have to do a signature drink,” says Fiallos. “This is when you really see their art and their creativity.”
There are 10 competitors including a pair of locals. Helm and Jessie Andrews were the first two on stage.
“I've always wanted to see Las Chicas coffee on the stage and it's never been used in a barista competition...I don’t think I'll win or anything, but just to be here at this competition is special,” Helm says.
It was a long shot to be able to host this multi-day event, but now that it's here, Fiallos is thinking bigger.
“This was a good test, and we’ve had such a wonderful response, that now I'm just pumped...let’s go for nationals”.
The event continues with day two of competition on Tuesday afternoon where the top six baristas will move onto the national finals next year.