Calgary coffee connoisseur captures Canadian championship
Ben Put is — for the 6th time — Canada’s top barista and that’s probably a record
A Calgary barista and coffee shop co-founder will have to make some room on his trophy shelf, as he's recently been named Canada's best in the business.
Ben Put of Monogram Coffee has now won the title of the Specialty Coffee Association's Canadian National Barista Championship and for the sixth time, likely a record on its own.
"Even though I have won this many times I am always convinced I lost, so it's a relief and it's super exciting," Put told The Homestretch this week.
Participants have 15 minutes to serve a panel of four judges three drinks with a theme weaving them together: an espresso, a milk-based drink, and a non-alcoholic signature drink with espresso.
"You are trying to serve the best drink you can," Put explained.
"You also have to describe the coffee. It's not enough to just give someone an amazing espresso, you have to tell them exactly what it's going to taste like. A really good presentation will tie all of those three courses into a theme so that every course builds on the next one. You are talking basically the entire time you are making drinks as well."
Put's theme is about averages.
"My opening line is basically telling everyone they are drinking average coffee. I backtrack a little bit right away before anyone throws something at me," he said with a laugh.
"I think it's good to start with something that wakes the judges up and makes them start listening."
Put sourced the ingredients with coffee from a farm in Panama. He says there's a certain coffee blossom that has to be harvested with great care.
"It's a really rare ingredient," he said.
"When that flower blossoms, if you pick it, it kills the fruit. No bean is going to come from that. You have to wait until the fruit forms and then the blossom will actually fall but it will be held on by one thin string. That is when you pick it. It is so much work. As a result, most people never smell a coffee flower unless they are on a farm. It's not something you get to smell everyday."
And based on his most recent award, that coffee flower was a hit with judges.
"A big part of the signature drink is trying to mix everything together to create a new experience," Put said.
"I took fruity elements from my espresso and combined them with these ingredients, and it tasted almost like cherry cola. It had lots of orange blossoms. My goal with signature drinks is that, as you are sipping them, you forget how much you are drinking, then the drink is gone and you are over-caffeinated."
With files from The Homestretch