Try Jill's Favorite
"I LOVE Cafiza! It can clean anything!"
What is your current occupation and employer?
I am a trainer, educator, and provide quality control for the cafe coffee program at Monogram Coffee in Calgary
List all the national competitions you have competed in.
- 2020 Canadian National Barista Champion
- 2015-2019 Canadian National Barista Championship (Finalist)
- 2016 Canadian National Aeropress Champion
How did you get into the coffee industry? When did you know you wanted to turn your passion for coffee into a career?
I got into the coffee industry casually five and a half years ago when Monogram was first opening up their cafe. I had always enjoyed drinking specialty coffee and cafe culture, and I knew that if I was going to start working in any cafe, it had to be Monogram. Originally, I thought I would work in the cafe, meet new people, learn a bit about coffee and that would be the end of it. Little did I know that once I started to immerse myself into the industry I would discover that there was so much more to experience than that. I knew pretty quickly after first starting that this was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I couldn’t get enough of the story of coffee. Its history, the vastness of its potential, the faces behind every facet of the industry, and looking forward to where coffee was progressing was all too captivating to ever go back to anything else.
How did you first decide to compete in a coffee competition?
I first decided to compete very shortly after I became a barista. It had only been six months, and seeing as I worked for two Canadian Barista Champions, competition sort of came with the territory. They had given me a gentle push to consider it, and with a lot of help from both Ben and Jeremy, I signed up and never looked back!
Which element of your performance in the Canadian Championship was most exciting for you to present to the judges and audience?
This year my theme was centered around the connection between flavour experiences and our memories. For my espresso course, I used a washed Gesha from Elida Estate. So, for that course the connection to the cup was the memory from Wilford Lamastus Sr. (the producer) of the very first time that he tasted a washed Gesha on their cupping table. The reason why this was so special to me was because Wilford Sr. recorded an audio clip of himself recalling that particular memory, which I was able to play for the judges. I loved that I had the opportunity to share that with them and everyone else in the room.
Who in the coffee industry serves as an inspiration to you?
I would say that I am very lucky to be working alongside someone who inspires me every day. I have learned so much of what I know from my boss, friend, mentor + coach, Ben Put. I am always interested in hearing about what he's been thinking about, testing, and always willing to go along with any challenge he throws my way. I think our industry is better because of him.
What was it like to beat your boss and barista competition legend, Ben Put, in the national championship this year?
The million-dollar question! It felt surreal, still feels surreal. I know that he has always believed that I could, probably more so than I ever did. I feel very proud of everything that I have done along the way to get myself to this spot, and I feel extremely proud to represent Monogram on the World stage.
What do you enjoy most about working at Monogram?
Two things: 1. The people. Our whole entire team is incredible, and I am very lucky to go to work every day and learn from and work alongside them. 2. The opportunities. I will never understand how I got so lucky to be a part of a company that is so generous with their resources, their knowledge and their time. They invest in me and push me to be better. I have had so many opportunities because of who I work for that I wouldn’t otherwise. I have travelled, competed, tasted some of the world's best coffees, met incredible people from all over the world, and been given my dream job.
How has working as a barista trainer and educator helped you become a better coffee professional yourself?
I fully believe that if you have the opportunity to teach, you will inevitably be better at it because of that. If I am going to be responsible for teaching someone else how to do something, I better know what I am talking about! Not to mention, there are always questions that come up during tastings or trainings that force you to do more research!
What is the best coffee-related advice you have received?
“Sometimes, it is better to not feel like you need to know everything.”
Describe the importance of cleaning or clean equipment in making the best coffee beverages.
Just like we wouldn’t cook a great meal with dirty dishes, we should make coffee with dirty equipment! A well brewed coffee is one of the best luxuries, why not give that coffee every opportunity to shine that we can. Everything else is so carefully thought about, so how we brew and how clean our equipment is should also be given the same forethought.
What is the funniest/most memorable experience you have had at a café?
A couple years ago one of my co-workers was carrying two cappuccinos out to a pair of customers on the patio, and he walked full steam ahead - straight into the glass door. The poor cappuccinos ended up all over the glass door, and he was so embarrassed. But he had a good laugh, and so did everyone else in the cafe!
What is your go-to beverage order at a café?
I love a good filter coffee!
What is your favorite origin country, region or farm?
I have a bit of a love affair with Colombian coffees - I would say Panama + Bolivia are very high up on that list as well!
What is unique about coffee culture in Canada?
I think that specialty coffee is still gaining popularity in Canada, which makes it a really exciting time to be a barista here. Consumers are excited to try new things, and excited to learn more about specialty coffee, so it really makes our jobs a lot more fun and also a lot more important.
What is one specialty coffee trend you would like to see gain popularity this year?
As our world becomes more aware of the impacts our choices have on the environment, more and more cafes are moving towards less waste and eco-friendly products. I would love to see our industry continue to embrace these changes and become better stewards of our environment.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I hope 5 years from now I am still doing a version of what I am doing now, and still with Monogram. I would love to see my role expand and grow, but to stay within the same sphere of influence that I currently occupy.