Today the WestEnder of Vancouver, Canada posted an article on one of my favorite baristas in the world, Sammy Piccolo: Canada’s quest for coffee supremacy. Sammy has made some of the best espresso I’ve ever had in North America … if not the world. Back in 2000, along with his brothers Vince and Michael, he also co-founded the outstanding Caffè Artigiano chain in Vancouver, BC.

Sammy also has the distinction of being a repeat Canadian barista champion and placing in the world’s top three baristas for three consecutive years now at the World Barista Championships (WBC).

At the 2004 WBC in Trieste, Italy, Sammy dominated the technical categories of the competition. However, he ultimately lost ground to the eventual 2004 WBC champion, Tim Wendelboe of Norway, in the much more subjective categories covering taste and performance. Sammy ultimately came home sporting the WBC silver medal — no small achievement.

After taking home the bronze at the 2005 WBC in Seattle, Sammy hoped the third time would be the charm at this year’s WBC, held last weekend in Bern, Switzerland.

After the opening round, the competition was narrowed to six finalists with Sammy once again holding a solid lead. But just as in Trieste, Sammy was overtaken in the final round — this time by eventual 2006 WBC champion, Klaus Thomsen of Denmark — and Sammy took home the silver medal once again. Despite his luck with judges in the final rounds of the WBC, Sammy has always been a champion in my book.

Also worth noting is that Matthew Riddle of Chicago’s Intelligentsia , winner of this year’s US Barista Championship, came in third place.