Cooking with Alison

Toronto’s Best Coffee Competition at the Coffee and Tea Expo (and an Interview with Barista Brian)

In Random, Reviews on April 6, 2017 at pm

Toronto Coffee & Tea Expo

Toronto’s first annual Coffee & Tea Expo will be held this weekend, April 8-9, 2017! It will take place at The Glass Factory, 99 Sudbury Street. I LOVE coffee and sample it everywhere I go, so I’m sure you can imagine how excited I will be to attend the event and provide social media coverage! Be sure to follow me on social media (details here) and check out my Introduction to Coffee Tasting.

At the expo, you’ll be able to try free drink samples, purchase coffee beans and tea leaves, experience the culture and new trends, and learn new recipes, tips, and tricks. I am most excited for the Best Coffee Competition! I was lucky enough to have a chance to interview one of the judges, Barista Brian, prior to the event. At the event, you will also meet other coffee and tea lovers, baristas, roasters, sommeliers, blenders, distributors and retail stores.

If you purchase your tickets online, you will get a 25% discount! See here. Tickets are already starting to sell out!

Photo of Barista Brian from his Instagram page (@baristabrian). Provided by and used with permission from Toronto Coffee & Tea Expo.


The Best Coffee Competition

On Saturday, April 8, 2017, Toronto’s 2017 best cup of coffee will be announced at the Toronto Coffee & Tea Expo! The competition will begin at 3:30 pm.

The host of the competition will be CBC’s The Goods co-host Shahir Massoud. The judges will be: Dine.TO editor, Stephanie Dickison, Danielle Michaelov of Yes Coffee No Decaf, and renowned Toronto latte artist, Barista Brian. (See below for my interview with Barista Brian.)

The 5 contestants will be: MBUNTU, Canadiano, Mishas Mundi, Barocco Coffee, and Hatch! I plan to sample all five of these and will share my reviews through my social media accounts (details here).

Attendees will also be able to vote on the People’s Choice best cup of coffee or tea. Place your vote on your way out and the winner(s) will be announced after the expo.


Interview with Toronto Latte Artist, Barista Brian

Brian Leonard, also known as Barista Brian, is one of the judges for the Best Coffee Competition at the Toronto Coffee and Tea Expo. He is a trained opera singer but is more well-known for his unique latte art which includes caricatures of celebrities, logos, animals, and unicorns. In 2015, used a photo of his Blue Jays’ logo latte art as their photo of the day, CBC wrote about him (see here), and View the Vibe Magazine called him Toronto’s Best Latte Artist (see here). Check out his youtube channel here.
I had a chance to ask Barista Brian a few questions prior to the event.
Question 1: How will the judges score the coffee for the Best Coffee Competition?
Answer: The coffee will be judged on: acidity, sweetness, appearance, aroma, body and overall taste out of a score of 5 (1 being the lowest score, 5 being the highest). The cup of coffee with the highest total score will win the title of Best Coffee!
Question 2: How many cups of coffee do you drink in one day?  

Answer: If you had asked me a year ago, it would have been about 9 shots of espresso a day, easily haha. These days usually one or two espresso based drinks a day, although I like to start the day with a turmeric milk or matcha latte. Definitely lots of hot beverages.

Me: I can’t wait to try making a hot turmeric drink! I have more turmeric powder than I know what to do with!

Question 3: Can you describe the moment you first fell in love with coffee?
Answer: I spent a year in Fredericton NB before I moved to Toronto, and I spent most of that year in a cafe, drinking coffee. It became my favourite place to be, and I would spend hours reading, writing, meeting friends and drinking cups and cups of coffee.
Question 4: I read that you were working on creating Taylor Swift in latte art. Have you been able to achieve this? Any other designs that you aspire to create?
Answer: I would love to make Taylor Swift for Taylor Swift someday, but haven’t got her yet haha. I’d love to do more landscapes, use more colour, and push my boundaries and see what I can do.
Question 5: What are some of your future plans/upcoming endeavors?
Answer: Someday I hope to have my own cafe. I had a dream about it this week and saw/felt what it would be like. Hoping to make that a reality someday. I’ve had some awesome opportunities so far this year, and am excited to see what else is in store for me in 2017! Definitely stay tuned…

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