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3 tips for getting to your health goals.

Are you one of the millions (probably billions) of us who make new years resolutions? I’m sure the list consists of traveling more, spending more time with friends and family… but I bet “be healthier” is close to the top of your list. You’ve probably got your workout routine sorted out and which foods you want to eat more of and which ones to stay away from.

With this in mind, I think it’s only responsible of us to do our part and try to help you out with where your coffee options are concerned.

This year I will...

Drink Coffee!

If you’re a coffee drinker, you’re in luck. With coffee coming in at 1 calorie per cup, you certainly won’t have many issues there. In fact studies show that having a cup of coffee before a work out accelerates fat loss and increases performance[i] (Tweet that!)  So habitualize having a coffee prior to working out.

Now if you’re a coffee drinker that adds milk and sugar you’re looking and closer to 80 calories per cup and risk losing some of the benefits that coffee on it’s own provides. Not only that but triggering insulin in your body, which will store that sugar as fat.

Work on incrementally reducing your coffee additives.

Low fat milk won’t make you skinny.

Skim milk contains a higher percentage of sugar and carbs to fat than whole milk does[ii]. What does this mean? Although you are ingesting less total fats and taking in less calories per cup it doesn’t necessarily result in weight loss. Fat does not trigger an insulin response in the body, the way sugars do. Insulin stores the excess sugar as fat, and that is much more difficult to burn than fat itself.  

Studies have found that drinking low fat milk may have some quicker short-term weight loss results, but created a much higher chance of being overweight later in life. Also skim milk brands often have increased sugar levels in order to make them taste better.[iii]

In all honesty, the studies about skim milk vs whole milk are ongoing and it truly is hard to find a clear winner.

That being said, without really knowing which is better, why sacrifice the superior taste that whole milk brings to your cappuccino when we don’t truly know if the skim milk is beneficial anyway? 😉


As with most things, it comes down to moderation.

You can be confident you’ll hit your goals if you can stay on the right path with the 4 tried and true drinks, a classic case of quality over quantity. 

  1. Coffee
  2. Espresso
  3. Cappuccinos
  4. Americanos

Not only will you be doing your body a lot of favours, you’ll also make your barista pretty happy as well. [iv]
 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

[i] Men’s Fitness Magazine

[ii] Greatist

[iii] Daily Mail

[iv] Jonny’s Java


What I Learned At CNBC And 4 Reasons Why You Should Do It!

If you’ve been around the specialty coffee scene for a little while you might have heard about the Barista Championships. There are Regionals, Nationals and Worlds.

The Canadian National Barista Championships (CNBC) happened two weeks ago. The way you qualify is to be in the top four in your region. Canada has four regions; West, Prairie, Central and East. To qualify for worlds, you have to place 1st.

This year I decided to throw my hat in the ring.

Jon Plett Canadian National Barista Championships

Although I have been around the competition volunteering in various capacities for the last few years, it seemed to not have prepared me at all for what I was about to get into.

Competing was heaps of work and I’m so happy I did it. I was fortunate enough to qualify for Nationals where I ended up 7th in Canada.

Through the whole experience I went through times of excitement, hating it and total discouragement. I still don’t know if I’ll ever compete again but I did learn so much through the process and I am unquestionably a better barista for doing so. (If you’d like to check out my routine click here, and fast forward to 1:09:00)

I still believe that the competition is more about “beating the game” than how amazing you are at making coffee, but here are 4 reasons why you should compete at least once.

  1. Grow in knowledge – Throughout the process you’ll hit many obstacles you need to overcome, this often forces you to reevaluate or reconsider some things you’ve never questioned before or haven’t questioned for a long time. For me it even consisted of going back to simple coffee basic principals and questioning my techniques for brewing, distributing, dosing…etc. I was fortunate to have an amazing coach (Momiji Kishi) who questions everything and asks “why?” to your every motion. It’s amazing how difficult simple actions can become when you are forced to justify them.
  1. Connect in the industry – Just by attending your regional and/or national competition you’ll get to rub shoulders with roasters, importers, distributors and fellow baristas. Being a competitor just takes it up a notch. This just may be the most fun part of these events; Connecting with old friends and meeting new ones. This is a very small and “arms open” industry, so getting connected is not very intimidating and makes it that much more fun visiting cafes in the cities of the new friends you’ve made.
  1. Challenge yourself – Coming up with a routine can seem simple at first. This is what I want to talk about, this is how I’m going to approach it and this is the coffee I’m going to use…. That is up until the moment that you need to insert the “must have’s” into your speech, such as tasting notes and display knowledge about your coffee. Balancing that with the synergy of the theme and your signature drink, it can quickly lose its “fun-nes”. As I mentioned earlier in the “Grow in knowledge” point, in the same way Momiji questioned my motions, she questioned all parts of my speech. Why is this or that part important? How does that affect the coffee? What are you trying to prove? Why is it important that you prove it?
    This can be extremely challenging, but it anchors you to represent coffee in a professional way.
  1. Makes you a better barista – This is the most important part. Chances are if you’re competing, or thinking about competing, it’s because you enjoy what you do; You enjoy making and serving coffee and you want to get better at doing it. For me, the training and time I put into preparing for competition has had the single biggest impact on my professionalism behind the bar. I’m a much cleaner and more efficient barista than I ever have been before. I’m more aware of my motions and my environment (customer interaction, cleanliness, wait times) which all together has made me more efficient and professional. This alone is succeeding.

So if you’ve ever thought about competing as a barista (or in any other area of life), just do it! Allow no space for success to be defined by the digit in front of your name, by training and doing it, you’ve already won.

To see my routine click here and fast forward to 1:09:00

An Interview with Colton Rempel

There is no doubt that the coffee scene in Manitoba is experiencing a growth spurt.Colton_Jonnys_Java
There are a good handful of great shops already supporting the ever-growing specialty coffee customer and more popping up all the time. 

It was a real pleasure to host the Prairie Regional Barista Championships (PRBC) in Winnipeg this year and is another way Jonny’s Java has proved to be a mover in the Canadian coffee scene.
Andy Wiebe and Megan Hiebert of Jonny’s, as well as Vanessa Stachiw of Little Sister Coffee are to thank for bringing the PRBC to Manitoba this year. 

We’ve had staff at Jonny’s representing at the PRBC for a few years now but we’ve never had a competitor as our own until this year. We are very excited and so so proud of Colton for stepping up and taking on the challenge to compete at this years competition. 
Colton and I are thousands of kilometres away from each other at the moment but we were able to align a phone meeting this week and I wanted to ask him a bit of how he felt the competition went as well as advice for people who are looking to compete for the first time. 

Enter Colton

So Colton, what was the progression from working bar at the cafe to competing this year at PRBC?
Well as you know I’ve been following coffee for a while and last year I volunteered at the National Barista Championships to get a bit more hands on and experience of that area and this year I decided to throw my hat in and try it out.

What do you think was the biggest surprise going from spectator to competitor?
It is a lot more demanding than I could have imagined. There are so many things to learn and the more time you can take to prepare the better. You’ll encounter a lot of hiccups. 

Can you tell us some hiccups you experienced in prep and in comp?
Learning the rules and structure is time-consuming and coming up with a theme and a fluid flow was very difficult to do. I was pretty sure of the coffee I wanted to use, but to build a signature drink and theme around it was tough. As far as in competition goes; I’ve never competed before so there were so many things I did not know! haha. I didn’t understand what the prep time and was for before my routine, so I didn’t pull any practice shots or anything, then when actual performance time came, my dose was a little off and had to do some purging, put they worked out after that haha. That messed my routine up a bit though. I also got a little freaked out that I was running out of time, so I called “time” with about a minute left and hadn’t cleaned my work station or properly served my signature beverage. 

What was your routine about?
My routine was about showcasing the up-and-coming coffee scene in Mexico and how it related to Manitoba. Manitoba’s coffee scene is booming uncontrollably and Mexican coffees are getting better and better all the time, it is really impressive how far their attention to quality has come. 

What was your favourite part about the weekend aside from competing?
Probably the tasting session that was facilitated by Josh Hockin from Transcend Coffee in Edmonton.  He talked about tasting coffee varietals and regions. This kind of has to do with competing but my most favourite part was reprising Other Brother Coffee Roasters (OBR). OBR is a fairly new coffee roasters in Manitoba and in all honesty I had my doubts about using their coffee but it was amazing! Not only was the coffee great but the support from them was equally as incredible. Sam, one of the owners, would text me almost daily to see how the coffee was settling and how they could improve it for next batch. Getting to work with Sam was really humbling and all the support I got from OBR was overwhelming. 

So what’s next in coffee for you?
I just took on a management position and will be helping to open a new cafe in Winnipeg called Brothers Doughnuts. I’ll be running their coffee program there and I’m really excited about learning more about the business side of coffee. In the future I’d like to get into roasting as well. 

What’s next for you unrelated to coffee?
Well finding a place to live in Winnipeg is next. Adjusting to new life, work and circle of friends is a transition that will take some time. Being able to work in coffee is a safe place for me, it’s a comfortable place, because even if I’m hundred miles from home, I’m still at home making coffee. 

Any last words?
I can’t stress enough how much Andy and Megan’s support meant to me, they were so valuable. They are the reason I believe I did as well as I did, pretty much everything that I could have done better was my fault. Andy and Megan are both great judges and teachers, so every time I’d have a bar shift with Andy, he’d be watching my tamping, grooming and fall times, constantly encouraging me and pointing out things I could improve on.

Also… Andreas Adams is a great beatboxer! Colton_Jonnys_Java



How To Please Your Coffee Loving Spouse

Are you married to a coffee lover? Or are you a coffee lover yourself and would love your

This is my wife..... I know! I don't get it ether.

This is my wife….. I know! I don’t get it ether.

spouse to better understand where you are coming from and how to feed this addiction!? 

My wife is not so much a coffee lover but she’s a hell of a supporter. She buys me coffee gear on special occasions, ships me coffee from roasters I love and signs me up to attend or facilitate cuppings at cafes in cities we are visiting. Because she is so good, I have asked her to share with our audience her strategy of dealing with a coffee loving spouse.

Enter Aelea:


To say my husband loves coffee could be considered one of the largest understatements when describing the love an individual has a passion of theirs.

My wonderful husband has been immersed in coffee culture since I met him. At this time, Starbucks was still an acceptable place to purchase coffee from– which was great for me since coffee isn’t really my thing. I can walk into Starbucks and go with a generic, sugar loaded, delicious option of a salted caramel mocha, which is really just sugar and milk with a side of coffee flavour– exactly how I like my coffee. While my beverage choice wasn’t ideal, he was always willing to accept how I just don’t really like coffee.

Jon Plett was planning on opening Jonny’s Java and was enjoying his time learning all about the high-end coffee world. Upon an adventure to California, we went to Intelligentsia. Jon ordered his usual (which consists of at least two of the following; cappuccino, espresso, americano, V60, or syphon if available). I was in line waiting for a tea and a barista had a little extra of a coffee they had brewed for the customer ahead which they kindly offered to me. I accepted (feeling weird to say no, even though I don’t really like coffee) and to my surprise, I enjoyed the beverage in the cup. 

This was a momentous occasion. I recall Jon taking a picture of me with the first cup of coffee I have ever enjoyed (without adding anything to it) and I’m sure it came up in conversation with his coffee-loving friends.

As time has gone on I’ve learned how to please my coffee loving spouse in a few ways that may be helpful to you– especially if you’re a tea or sugary filled coffee beverage drinker like me!

1 – Soak in the knowledge. 

Your spouse lives, breathes and literally LOVES coffee. The conversations they are having with people make them light up like Santa’s Workshop on Christmas Eve. When your spouse is sharing their endless knowledge about the worlds most consumed beverage, be sure to listen up. Perhaps you can share some of the knowledge with your friends in a random ‘did you know’/fun fact scenario (like I just did with that fun fact up there!)

2 – Support the Passion. 

The coffee world is always growing. While you may not be keeping up with it, your spouse most certainly is! While hearing about some sort of new process might not be the most riveting thing you’ve heard, the genuine excitement your spouse has when talking about it means it’s time for you to actively listen! Ask questions, show interest and make notes.

3 – Coffee and coffee related items make the best gifts. 

When surprising my husband by coming home a week early from a 5-month long stint in California, part of my plan was having a friend deliver him a bag of coffee from Blue Bottle telling him it was ‘air mailed’ today. While he was pumped to see me, he was equally pumped for the coffee. For his birthday I gave him a one-cup brewer he tried for the first time while visiting friends in Vancouver. The $250 bottle of Scotch hasn’t been opened yet, but the $15 brewer has been his preferred brew method since he got it.

4 – Show you care. 

While coffee related items make the best gifts, showing you care goes deeper and shows you genuinely support their love. If I see something interesting regarding coffee pop up on social media or Pinterest, I make a point to share with my husband. Out and about and see something coffee related they were talking about or think they may be interested in? Snap a photo to share.

Being married to a coffee lover is awesome and I wouldn’t trade it for any other love! How coffee creates a common talking point with strangers we meet, and how coffee with Baileys is our summer staple makes it easy to accept and encourage his love for coffee! Learning how to feed the passion and appeal to your spouses interest makes your time together more enjoyable and gives your spouse added incentive to take interest in your passions too! 

Aelea blogs about baking and social change at Love Inspires Change

4 steps to perfecting your pour-over.

Are you one of the thousands of people that have upped their home brewing coffee game? coffee brewerPour overs, Aeropress and so many other single cup brew methods have invaded kitchens across Canada.

Recently we did a post about how to have a better coffee experience. This was more about getting you into a mental state prior to cupping or drinking coffee.

Today I want to talk more about the technical side of how to brew a quality pour-over at home consistently.

However you approach your brewing, you want to make sure it is replicable. When you’re playing with variables, make sure your consistent with what variable you are changing.

Here are the top 4 steps to monitor:

Agitation – are you pulsating your water doses as you get to your desired weight? If so, how much and how often?

Stirring – are you stirring the coffee at the bloom or once you’ve hit your water weight?

Particle size – Are you adjusting your coffee particle size according to the amount of coffee you’re brewing? Are you keeping it consistent?

Temperature – have you played around with brewing your coffee one or two degrees hotter or cooler?

Isolating variables will help you pin point how an action affects outcome and if it was a desirable outcome or not. By isolating the variables you can replicate the results next time you brew.

I hope this helps you get a better cup every morning and give you a better day every week.

How To Roast Coffee At Home.

If you are like most people that love coffee, the experience goes far beyond the beverage itself. coffee roastingYour continued desire for growth and more “geekyness” cannot be quenched.

Exploring home roasting becomes a natural next step. 

There are many tools and equipment you can buy to roast coffee at home. Today I want to talk about none of those. I want to show you how to use the equipment you already have at your disposal.

If you live in Manitoba contact Other Brother Roasters for some high quality green bean coffee.

You will need:

–       A perforated baking sheet.
–       Gram scale.
–       2 metal sieves.
–       A stop watch that shows seconds.
–      A Sample of roasted coffee. (It’s important to have a sample of coffee that you are trying to match the colour to.)
–       A note pad. (If you think you’ll do this often, it’s handy so you can document and reference your findings.)
–       And some green coffee.

Place the rack on the center of the oven and pre-heat to 500 F. (The longer you preheat the better your temperature stability will be) 30 minutes will probably do it.

Weigh out 150g of coffee and spread it on the sheet. Make sure you leave some buffer around the edges that your coffee does not expand and singe on the sides.

Open your windows, turn on your vent fan and consider shutting off your smoke alarms. (Remember to put them back on)

Agitate the pan at around the 4 minute mark.

At around 7-8 minutes you should start hearing “first crack” which will sound like popcorn popping. Agitate the pan again at this point.

At around 9 minutes, as it’s probably popping dramatically, you should consider pulling it if you like a lighter to medium roasted coffee. If you like darker, keep going. (Use your sample coffee to reference for color).

Take into consideration that your coffee will keep getting darker after you take it out of the oven, so it’s good to take it out before you think it’s done.

After you’ve pulled your pan from the oven dump them into one of the sieves. Take it outside and pour the coffee from one sieve to the next to cool the coffee down as quickly as possible.

You’re coffee will change dramatically from this day to 10 days from now. I suggest starting to drink it 48 hrs after and keeping notes on how it is evolving everyday.

If you tried this out, I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment or shoot me an email at

Marketing You Your Coffee.

Witty marketers in the mid-tier coffee sector have done a great job of combining roast style, grocery store coffeegeography and brew method into coffee bag descriptions.

Certainly by doing this you create emotional and situational buy in, as well as the freedom to ride the line between blends that consist of both premium and consumer grade coffee.

Some you may be familiar with are:

–       Breakfast Bend.
Code for medium roast, pleasantly acidic.

–       House Blend
Slightly darker, you’re probably going to put cream and sugar in it. 

–       Espresso Roast
Referring more to a “bold” and even “punchier” blend rather than the brew method. (This probably is the most confusing of all.)

–       French Roast
Darker than the rest, also referring to it’s punchiness more so than it’s brew method.

Then you’ve got the full on deceptive origin descriptors that sell on the romance of geography. These include:

–       Kona Blend.
Currently you need only 10% of your coffee to be from Kona to call it that. The rest of the 90% is from anywhere but.

–      Colombian.

So rather than naming your coffee a “situational” blend, you can just give it a fake geographical association that might appear exotic.