There is no doubt that the coffee scene in Manitoba is experiencing a growth spurt.
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.
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!