Barista Magazine

AUG-SEP 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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with leaders of local coffee organizations. To begin the competition, baristas were flown to Pitalito, the country's largest producer of coffee, in the Huila Department. The baristas settled in at SENA, one of the country's free edu- cational institutes operated by the government-run Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), which offers classes and degree programs in areas such as civil engineering, agronomy, and of course, coffee. From the moment the baristas arrived, the competition was on. For the fi rst half of their stay, the baristas traveled to different coffee farms each day to pick coffee, learning how to pick quickly as well as how to pick only the ripest cherries. On the fi rst full day, the baristas were paired with members of the AssociaciĆ³n de Mu- jeres Cafeteras del Occidente del Huila (roughly translated as the association of female coffee workers in western Huila), a collective of about 300 female coffee producers. During this fi rst picking competition, the baristas were asked to pick as much coffee as they could in an hour, keeping in mind quality, effi ciency, and accuracy (if a cherry fell to the ground, the baristas could not pick it up, and the amount of cherry they dropped would be factored into their fi nal score). As judge and veteran international coffee competition organizer Sonja Grant of Iceland told them, "We are watching everything." Activities throughout the days that followed included varying picking challenges, depulping contests, and farm trials like planting new coffee seedlings, and in every moment of each task, the baris- tas were being assessed by an esteemed panel of judges, which in- cluded Sonja, Rebecca, and Scott Conary, a longtime international coffee contest judge and volunteer trainer in producing countries. The judges took meticulous notes throughout the competition, and 53 www.baristamagazine.com

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