Barista Magazine

AUG-SEP 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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for certain aspects of the curriculum—like understanding the dif- fi culties of coffee producing, or that only the ripest cherries make the best coffee—the lessons learned through immersion could not be paralleled. It's impossible to guess all the hardships and strug- gles it takes to get a cup of coffee into your hands, unless you have been up-close-and-personal, which is at the very heart of Barista & Farmer's mission. To get to the farms, baristas often traveled for hours, and learned how tough it actually is to get coffee to city centers or ready for export (sure, this is a topic we talk about in coffee, but do we really understand it?). On one particular day, the baristas' van veered a little off course, getting stuck in the mud, and all the baristas had to get out of the van and push to get it back on track. As Francesco and Rebecca said, it's just part of life as a coffee farmer. On most days the baristas had to pick in the rain, which was es- pecially challenging at Finca El Paraiso, where most of the coffee trees are planted on sloped hills. Falling was common, and some of the baristas lost their haul after particularly nasty slips. However arduous the tasks were, the baristas were unfailingly positive and warm to the judges, to the producers and pickers, and to one another. It was common to see baristas traveling in pairs for safety and camaraderie, and checking in with their colleagues to see if anyone needed anything. "Something that I noticed about this group," Francesco commented during one of very few slow moments of the competition—the baristas were in the midst of a cooking challenge, where professors from the gastronomy school at SENA guided them as they made a traditional Colombia dish— "is that all these baristas are friends. They are not in competition with each other." This was especially clear once the baristas moved from Pitalito to Bogotá, where the group spent two days touring coffee shops around the city and attending lectures at the FNC's national head- quarters. In Bogotá, the baristas learned much more about the coffees they had been picking in context, with various leaders from the FNC sharing fi ndings on varietals, land use, and the future of coffee in Colombia. (The FNC is a nonprofi t aimed at promoting the value of Colombian coffee—you might know them as the folks At le : If you've ever visited a coff ee farm, you may have been invited to try your hand at picking cherry for a few minutes. The international barista competitors who participated in the 2018 Barista & Farmer event in Colombia picked coff ee for hours and hours every day for a week. "It is so important for the baristas to understand the kind of life of these pickers, the work they do," says Barista & Farmer founder Francesco Sanapo of Italy. Right: Judges Rebecca Atienza (le ), Sco Conary (center), and Sonja Grant kept tabs on the competitors for the duration of the event. "This group of baristas was extraordinary," Sonja says. "Rarely have I seen people work together so beautifully from the moment they meet." 56 barista magazine

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