Barista Magazine

AUG-SEP 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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responsible for the ubiquitous Juan Valdez marketing campaign— and offering fi nancing, guidance, and a national governing board to the thousands of coffee growers in the country.) Baristas learned about the unique coffee-producing culture in Colombia, where more than 50 percent of farmers own less than one hectare of land for coffee growing, and diseases such as coffee-leaf rust, or roya, which have forced farmers to shift to rust-resistant varieties. Today, more than 70 percent of the coffee produced in Co- lombia is the Castillo variety, while the research branch of the FNC, Cenicafe, which developed Castillo in a lab, works to create new hybrids and varieties to fi ght rust and other environmental issues. Throughout the trip, the baristas were constantly encouraged to ask questions and be ambassadors not just of Colombian coffees, but also of the country in general. On the very last day, when Di- ego Campos, representing the host country of Colombia, was crowned the winner of Barista & Farmer 2018, he shared similar sentiments. "Colombia is all about kindness and giving, as you all saw throughout our time here," Diego said in his acceptance speech, referencing the number of gifts and acts of kindness the baristas had received at every stop along their trip. "I hope that I was able to give you some of that, as well." All felt this sentiment. Immediately after Diego's name was called as the winner, the other nine baristas crowded around him, hugging him and crying and smiling all at the same time. "I think on my last day here, I'll probably cry because these people feel like my family," said barista Matija Matijasko a couple of days before the fi nal announcements, and that was certainly true in that moment. In the midst of tears and congratulations, the baristas were mostly sad that their time together was ending. Barista & Farmer is not an easy event. You don't sign up to enjoy a relaxing couple of days visiting farms. It's grueling, it's tiring, and it pushes each and every contes- tant beyond their limits. Although most of the baristas spoke some common language (competitors are required to submit their applications in English so there's a base language in which they can communicate), many competitors still struggled. Coming from Iceland, Croatia, Brazil, Colombia, Italy, Ukraine, China, Russia, and Austra- lia, and being immediately thrown together in a house with strangers, is a challenge for anyone to navigate. Add to that the fact that the baristas regularly woke at dawn, endured grueling physical activity, and were often up long after the day was techni- cally over to fi nish homework and other tasks assigned by the judges, and it's truly impressive what they accomplished and the focus and tenacity they exhibited. Even with the kind of intensity these baris- tas underwent for 11 consecutive days, when it was all over, you couldn't pry the baristas away from each other—that's how strong the bond they had forged was. On the last day, they made plans to see each other or meet up in different countries. Inside jokes were common (on one night in the barista house, Ukrainian competitor Iuliia Dziadevych was very tired and accidentally tried to leave the room by going through the wardrobe, which started an inside joke about her naming her future coffee shop "Narnia"). Every one of them felt connected to the country, the farms, and each other. The feeling I was overcome with watching this event is sort of ineffable, but it's infectious and warm and instills a sense of hope and excite- ment for future events like this. 59 www.baristamagazine.com

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