Ukee barista preps for regional competition

His tiny bakery-restaurant may be famed for its custom hot dogs, but Zane Nilson’s a coffee connoisseur.

We’re talking what elevation the bean was grown at in Ethiopia, the blend’s “lower notes” and “chocolatey tones.”

Practicing his serve in a well-timed routine for Canada’s Western Regional Barista competition July 26 at Rocanini Coffee Roasters in Vancouver, Nilson was in his element Monday. No wasted movement as he deftly ground beans and served up samples on custom-designed cedar platters, along with quick hits of unique information about the cuppa joe he served up -along with palatecleansing local waters from the Island he will bring to the competition set for July 26 in Vancouver.

“It’s about showing that you have that drive to make the best cup of coffee possible,” said Nilson, who at 33 has been a practicing barista his entire life, honing his skills in Vancouver for a decade before making Ucluelet his home.

What’s so special about coffee? “It’s just perfect, everything about it – if you don’t have it, your life sucks,” he said with a chuckle.

Nilson cultivates his own blend with the help of Ucluelet coffee roaster Jeff Grimshire of Foggy Bean. That’s a six-bean mix, from places like Brazil, Sumatra, Ethiopia and Peru.

“It’s good being friends with your roaster, having that much more control over your blend,” he said, adding that the blend is a fluid thing, since coffee done right is seasonal.

“It’s about balance, body, flavor and quality,” he said.

“We’re not really billed as a coffee shop, but we do have really good coffee.”

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