Learning to Roast Coffee May 28, 2017 15:00

Q: I am interested in learning the art of coffee roasting. Do you offer classes?

Let's start by defining what makes a great coffee roaster:

The ability to taste and make technical adjustments to correct errors.

Learning to roast coffee successfully - requires mentorship over a period of time, varying from a few months to a few years with lots of trials and errors. In spite of that fact, we can teach you the fundamentals of coffee roasting, safety procedures, simple maintenance and basics about coffee in a weekend. Anything beyond that is not realistic in a weekend course.

Unfortunately, there are coffee schools offering weekend roasting coffee classes that are thinly veiled as sales pitches, disguised with objective advice and instruction.

At the Canadian Barista & Coffee Academy we do not have equipment to sell to you.... WHY? Because...

  1. we are a coffee school,
  2. you are trusting us to give you sound financial and often life-changing advice,
  3. and, it goes against our code of ethics.

We believe it is important for all coffee schools and consultants to be up front and declare a full disclosure of any conflicts of interest that they may have. Why is this important?

Imagine if your Family Doctor didn’t disclose that they would benefit financially or otherwise when you take medicine that they recommend to you? How would you feel about that?... Removing all possible conflicts of interest insures that you - as the student - will receive clear unbiased instructions.

Our full disclosure to you: If you choose to sign up for a class with us, know that we have your best interest at heart because...

  1. we do not accept commissions for any recommendations of equipment
  2. we don’t roast coffee or accept commission for selling coffee, so we can teach you how to taste without bias
  3. we will never open a coffee shop or roastery next to you

When we teach you, our sole focus is teaching you, mentoring you and making sure you understand the message we are trying to deliver!

What is our message?

We teach you to understand the fundamentals. When you understand the fundamentals and principles behind roasting and making great coffee and how to do this consistently, you will then be able to teach and share that. Being able to share this knowledge completely removes any reliance you may have on us at the Academy. This ability to keep your co-workers/staff on the same page will drive your success!


We recommend you do the following before you invest money in roasting equipment and leasing a facility.

Step 1. Take Barista Level 1

In 3rd wave cafes the # 1 seller is espresso based drinks. As a roaster, if you don’t know how to make espresso and dial-in the espresso machine and grinder, then you can’t fix your roasting errors and shouldn’t roast for espresso. Our Barista Level 1 class is designed to teach you this!

Step 2. Take Coffee Tasting Level 1

You need to know how to taste coffee to either roast or make it. Come learn from our dedicated coffee professionals & educators how to taste unbiased with our Coffee Tasting Level 1

Step 3. Take Opening a Coffee Business

You need to know the economics of the coffee business model before you invest or go to far. Our Opening a Coffee Business course is perfect for those that want their own business whether it be a Coffee Shop or Roasting Coffee Facility answering all your business questions about finances, staffing, purchasing equipment, business plans and more.

After completing these three courses you will be prepared with the fundamentals to begin your successful roasting career and to take the next step...

3 days before TED2017 April 21, 2017 18:40

3 days before Ted.

Friday, 6:32 pm. A long day but a good one. The first floor of the Vancouver Convention Center is a hive of activity.

Our job today was relatively simple: Get two espresso stations running and test everything by making coffee. Mission accomplished!

Tomorrow 3 more stations to set up, but first they have to be built as there are partnered with some significant corporate sponsors.

It's a little scary as there isn't much time, and the espresso technicians are anxious to join the festivities of the SCA Expo in Seattle this week.

Speaking of which, I am hopeful I will be able to escape Ted2017 briefly on Saturday night, to attend the party at Caffe Vita, in celebration of Gianni Cassatini's 80th birthday.
Gianni might be the world's most interesting man, in coffee. I'd hate to miss it.

But the consolation prize of being here at Ted2017 is pretty exciting.

Everywhere you turn, you can't help but bump into someone moving some furniture, an electrician wiring something or a carpenter.... building something I can only describe as.. well.. a cathedral!

There are little cozy zones of seating in every little corner, twist and turn. Places where a small group can splinter off into private discussion, or a heated quorum. Of course there are a zillion TV screens to make sure nobody misses any of the talks.

The project seems monumental yet it is being pulled off by a relatively young group of organizers, with their faces buried in their laptops and phones glued to their ears.

The setting is breathtaking. Pictures cannot do it justice.

Imagine making coffee everyday, framed by the snow capped "Lions Mountains" of Vancouver, with a carpet of blue ocean in front of you. Accented by seaplanes, taking off and landing, with the occasional cruise ship passing by, as sea birds fly past.

It almost erases the time pressure of setting up and organizing the Ted2017 coffee stations.

ALMOST erases....... one of the Ted2017 managers here joked that if one of the TED speakers got delayed, the people would understand, but if the coffee bars suddenly stopped making coffee, there would be a riot!

So yes. there is that tick-tock in the back of my brain.. But it isn't so noticeable when I'm sitting on a sleekly upholstered contemporary couch, with my feet up on a mod coffee table, warm computer on my lap, just drinking it all in.

Artisan Coffee fuels the Future You at TED2017 April 20, 2017 13:29

By now I would be enroute to the SCA Expo, instead I find myself immersed in the inspiring whirlpool of the TED2017 conference. It is the week before the 2017 Ted talks begin at the Vancouver Convention Center and several Vancouver based coffee companies along with the Canadian Barista & Coffee Academy have banded together in a collective effort to fuel the intellectual synergy emanating at the shores of Burrard inlet. The lobby is being transformed into one giant coffee house. A Cafe Collective for the new Millennium so to speak, with some of the most insightful minds on the planet assembling to talk about people, planets, intelligence (real and artificial), design, the future, and a myriad of other mind stretching subjects.

This year's theme? "The Future You"

The diversity of the slate of speakers is mind boggling, from authors, to scientists, to superstars like Serena Williams, author of the human guinea pig, Tim Ferriss, and visionaries like Elon Musk. If that is not enough there is always the excitement of the "The Surprise Guest - A world figure whose identity we can't yet reveal.”

The talks are sold out as usual, with over 2000 attendees shelling out between $2000 to $6000 a person, in order to gain insight to help guide the future of their enterprises, institutions and their personal lives.

Luckily for us mere mortals, portions of the Ted talks will be screened at selected cinemas for about $23.

You may want to inquire at your local library and university if they will be streaming the talks live (and for free!), as was done in past years.

If you find yourself at the library, look for the book, The Devil's Cup: A History of the World According to Coffee by Stewart Lee Allen. If you haven't read this little gem, I highly suggest you pick up a copy, or download, or whatever it is people do these days.

In Devil's cup, Stewart Allen proposes that coffee was instrumental in leading western civilization out of the dark ages. According to Allen, coffee literally sobered up all of Europe at a time where drunken, slurred arguments were the norm in everyday European pub life.

The rise of 17th century coffee houses, suddenly created clarity of thought, and an abundance in energy, (which according to Allen), gave rise to the great intellects, writers and philosophers like Victor Hugo, Balzac, François-Marie Arouet, Rousseau, Jean-Paul Marat, Honoré de Balzac and Denis Diderot amongst others.

This is a new exciting partnership with the organizers of Ted. Some of the best coffees in Vancouver will be served to speakers and attendees, by some of the brightest young local barista talent.

I will divulge a few more details in the days to come, unfortunately this dream coffee shop is not open to the public(sorry!). But, we will endeavour to try and give you some details as the week progresses.

It should be a great event. There are several speakers I'm eager to bump into as it relates to our work at Canadian Barista & Coffee Academy, like behavioural economist Dan Ariely and cognitive scientist Anil Seth.

But personally I want to try and teach fellow Meta-learner, Tim Ferriss how to pour latte art, as Tim's series of 4-hour self help books have help to inspire the curriculum at the Canadian Barista & Coffee Academy,

4-hour barista, Tim?

Accents Inn preferred corporate rate for students of the Canadian Barista and Coffee Academy April 05, 2017 20:00

If you are coming from out of town and looking for a great place with a great rate then look no further... The Canadian Barista & Coffee Academy Vancouver Campus have partnered with Accents Inn - Burnaby and Mi Tierra Holidays to bring Accents Inn corporate rate to students of the Canadian Barista & Coffee Academy. Read this info sheet for more details. 


Summer Calendar updated today... March 20, 2017 14:24

Check out our new 2017 Summer Calendar now online full of comprehensive classes for learning to become a Barista, how to open a Coffee Business as well as 20% off our very popular Seasonal 4 day package, all available at the Vancouver Campus. Check it out

Spring Calendar March 14, 2017 19:19

Check out our new Spring Calendar now online full of comprehensive classes for learning to become a Barista, how to open a Coffee Business as well as 20% off our very popular 4 day package, all available at the Vancouver Campus. Check it out

Check out our new website ! December 31, 2016 08:00

check out our new website here and please notice that there is two ways to enter, either through the Toronto or Vancouver picture link.

Canadian Barista Academy Today July 04, 2016 01:20

The Canadian Barista Academy continues to oversee barista competitions in Canada, and certify judges.

Currently the Canadian Barista Academy is teaching in virtual campuses in four major cities across Canada and growing. 

The Canadian Barista Academy's education focus is to be an open source academy that allows industry professionals to plug in and become involved as faculty.  Our instructors are actively involved in building course content and in research and development for the coffee industry. 

Over the past 10 years, we have worked with some of the most talented coffee professionals the world, and have brought in special international instructors, industry consultants, Canadian champions and even world champions.  

We stand proudly behind our course content, our instructors, our growing international reputation and our hundreds graduating students, many who have gone on to forge solid careers in the coffee industry both in Canada.  

Our objective is to educate - we simply want to improve coffee quality in Canada, one cup at a time.

How Barista Competitions were organized April 28, 2010 16:41

To help facilitate discussion at the SCAA meeting of Canadian Coffee minds, I thought I would provide a summary of how the Barista events are organized in Canada, and subsequently funded to those of you who may not be familiar with the structure.

Feel free to pass on this email to anyone who may be interested in this.


The Canadian Barista championships and allied regionals are under the wing of the Coffee Association of Canada(CAC). The CAC in turn delegates the running of the championships to the sanctioned body "Vida Radovanovic” and the Canadian Barista and Coffee Academy(CBA). Vida in turn has delegated much of this responsibility to Les Kuan, as technical director of the CBA.

Canadian Barista Academy

The CBA was created in 2003 by Vida Radovanovic, to aid in the administration of the barista championships and to raise funds through educational seminars. In the early days, the CBA took total financial responsibility for the event, so any shortfalls in sponsorship came out of the wallets of the CBA.

The educational seminars put on by the CBA were created out of necessity, as regional committees were often short of funds. It is the equivalent of "doing dishes" to pay for your restaurant tab. This has allowed the CBA to involve past champions and talented baristas to give back to the cause by teaching as a guest instructor at CBA seminars. All baristas are paid for their teaching, to compensate them for their generosity in time and to establish a market value for their expertise.

The CBA has since evolved into the regulatory body of the Canadian national and regional barista championships, overseeing the running of the "contests" and the certification of judges in Canada.

The CBA is also actively involved in securing sponsorship for regional events, on a national basis. This provides much needed funding for local committees.


Head judges are appointed for each region and national, by the CBA.

Head Judging and judging is strictly volunteer based. Often sponsors have innocently offered to pay to bring up certain judges from out of town, but this has been always graciously refused. It is the CBA's long held opinion that judges are not to be paid for judging as this would be inappropriate, seeing as the money to pay judges would come from sponsors who could potentially have competitors in the competition.

The role of the head judge is as much administrative as it is about tasting coffee. It's is the head judge's role to make sure they have an adequately prepared judging pool, to ensure a fair contest. Being a head judge is a big responsibility and involves dozens of emails, scheduling, etc.

The head judge decides who is fit to judge, who is objective, and who is unbiased. Ultimately the head judge is responsible for the results and is given full authority to lead judges training.

The performance of the head judge is reviewable by the CBA.

When required by the World Barista Championship, WBC regulatory bodies are brought in on the host sponsors budget to oversee our events. The CBA has been involved in WBC certification where required.


Currently there are 4 regional events, and one national championship. All events rely heavily on volunteer labour.

Basic funding for all the events is from machine sponsors and host sponsors. The host sponsor is responsible for creating a committee that will be financially responsible for the regional event. Often the machine sponsors and the host sponsors are one in the same. 

For example, last year Nuova Simonelli was the machine sponsor in each region, and was represented by their distributors in each region. ECM/Machine and beans in Victoria, Espuccino/Fratello in Calgary, Zuccarini Importing in Toronto and Espresso Mali in Montreal. All shipping costs for machines are born by Nuova Simonelli and its dealers.

The Host sponsors for the Pacific Region were Reg Barber, Fratello in Prairies, Zuccarini in Central, and Cafe Mystique/Espresso Mali in Eastern.

Because the Host sponsors bear all the financial risk and responsibility, they determine who is on committee, solicit sponsorship, gather volunteers, provide a facility with adequate power, water, wifi, and head the marketing of the event. Basically, those who put up the money, call the shots.

The committee is also responsible for recruiting competitors and potential judges for the event.

Any shortfalls in funding are the responsibility of the host sponsor (who may delegate it to the committee), and any surpluses are either saved for the following year or paid out in prize/travel money to the regional champion.

Canadian National Barista Championships

The National Canadian Barista Championships is run the same way as the regionals.

Nuova Simonelli is the Machine sponsor and Fulcrum Enterprises, who run the Canadian Coffee and Tea Show, is the Host sponsor.

Fulcrum is basically responsible for any cost overruns, sells sponsorship, provides administration, marketing, promotion for the "event", much like regional hosts. They are simply a host, and the Coffee Tea Show is the venue they provide, free of charge, along with power, water, wifi, and signage.

The CBA runs the national "contest", appoints the head judge, approves the qualifying regional competitors, just like the regionals.

Fulcrum is not involved in the judging.

Sponsors for the Nationals are separate from the sponsors for the Coffee and Tea Show. In 2009, CNBC sponsors were Krups, Nuova Simonelli, Jet, Pacific Soy, Ghiardelli, Monin, Gerhards, Oregon Chai, Coag, UrnexHamilton Beach, Cirqua and Reg Barber Enterprises.

Fulcrum pays for the video, wifi, streaming, teleconferencing, shipping for the nationals and also stores the competition tables for the events. Fulcrum also provides the prize money needed to send our national champion to the World Barista Championships.

Current State of events

There seems to be a fallacy that there is a lot of extra money floating around the regional and national contests. Those of you who have helped at the committee level and have overseen the regional budgets, are more than aware of the financial difficulties involved in throwing regional and National events.

All sponsorship dollars raised are used for the event, and often the budget is heavily subsidized by the hosts. Where possible, the CBA subsidizes the events by organizing seminars that coincide with the regional and national events.

Often is the case that we do the best we can do to put our best face forward to the public and show them what specialty coffee is all about, while facing the challenge of travelling costs across our large country.

Despite our limited budgets, we have managed to improve the events each year, and feel we have set the standard as far as live streaming, regional structure, and growing support of the event at the grassroots level.

Our growing partnership with regional and national hosts and sponsors has made all this possible.

Our Canadian model of making all competitors go through regionals to qualify for nationals has allowed us to build solid foundations in every region. The key has been local sponsorship, by roasters, cafes, equipment suppliers, as they are also the main source of volunteer labour, and administrative support.

By involving local businesses, we ensure there are stakeholders from the community, which leads to a more organic competition.

Our live streaming telecast of the nationals last November drew 35,000 unique viewers.  This is only the tip of the iceberg. 

The Future

Our main objective for the 2010 competition year is to continue with our goal of making the regional events more consumer friendly, so that the regionals become a way to reach consumers with our message of specialty coffee. We encourage everyone to work together and create a common united front to present to the consuming public.

We want to involve the cafes in the promotion of regional events as they are the first point of contact with coffee consumers.  Every cafe has between 100-900 customers walking through their doors every day. If each cafe can display point of sale material, flyers, tickets or coupons that direct coffee consumers to our regional events, then we can almost guarantee a well attended event.

This years regionals will be a testament to our grass-root promotional efforts, but it will require local sponsorship to grow.

Sponsorship is always a point of extreme focus. Our hope is that by growing our live streaming audience, and creating more public-oriented events, that we can attract a broader range of lifestyle sponsors, outside of the the coffee industry. The demographics of our highly educated, tech savvy, youthful third wave coffee consumer should be a magnet to advertisers.

On a personal note... this has been a 7 year journey for me, starting with Sherri Johns talking me into being a judge.  I thought it would be a one time thing... little did I know.

What attracted me to the "third wave" was the unlimited potential, the fanatical energy, and the extreme dedication shown by the baristas.

What keeps me involved is that I see everyone wasting a huge opportunity to change the face of coffee, simply because everyone is not seeing the big picture.

I am not a stakeholder in your industry, yet here I am fighting for your industry.  

I've said over and over again. The media has no reason to talk to us except when there is a report that coffee causes a new kind of cancer, or isn't good for your heart. The barista championships give us television, radio and other media exposure that none of us can afford to buy, not even the biggest third wave cafe chains.

We should feel obligated to help out with regional events, obligated to send volunteers, obligated to send judges, to sponsor tables, to promote the contests at our cafes.

I have been frustrated by the lack of cooperation in some regions, frustrated to be begging for volunteers, only to be later criticized for being disorganized. Mostly I've been frustrated by the failure for the movement to come together as a true community and take ownership of this event.

We need to realize that our common enemies are bad coffee, sport energy drinks, pepsi, coke, etc.  We need to admit we are losing the battle in attracting younger, new consumers to coffee.

To do this, the leaders in specialty coffee need to come together and work as one, to push our beverage into the forefront.

I am encouraged that some of you have taken up the cause, through your tireless work in the regional committees, as cameramen, runners, bussers, judges, and head judges. Those of you who have chosen to stand by while everyone else sweats, you know you can do much better.

The youth in our industry take their leads from their leaders, so let's set the right example and grow specialty coffee in Canada.

This year, when we come knocking at your door for help. Please think twice about what you are saying no to.


I hope this makes things clearer. If you have any comments or questions, please don't hesitate to contact me

Les Kuan