The best coffee artists in the Prairies are in Winnipeg this weekend to compete in the Prairie Regional Barista Competition.

Nine baristas from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta are taking part in the competition, which began Friday and runs through Sunday at the Gas Station Theatre in Osborne Village.

Each barista has to make 12 drinks that are judged on sensory and technical elements.

The winner of this weekend's event will compete in the Canadian National Barista Competition in Mississauga, Ont., next month.

Cole Torode of Calgary, who is taking part in his fourth competition, was asked what makes coffee so special.

"It's hard to pinpoint that question, but coffee is a beautiful, romantic science experiment," he replied.

Two baristas from Manitoba are competing this weekend, including one from Parlour Coffee and one from Johnny's Java in Winkler.

Event co-ordinator Andy Wiebe says this year's event marks the first time the Prairie competition has been held outside of Alberta.

He said barista competitions help raise the profile of the region's best baristas, while also putting the spotlight on fair trade.

"We're benefiting from it … by drinking great coffee and building community like what we're doing right now," he said.

"It's also beneficial for the farmers who are now able to take a better income and reinvest in their farms and keep growing as well."