Barista Magazine

OCT-NOV 2017

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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industry superstars were in Brazil. We'd been talking all day about how important it is for Brazilian producers to ensure sustainability in specialty coffee, so dismissals of the good being done by incorporating mechanical harvesters into coffee production frustrated him. In the past, there was an abundance of available laborers in Brazil, which contributed signifi cantly to the growth of the nation's coffee sector. These days, though, many producers wouldn't be able to afford the pickers—that is, if they could even fi nd people to work for them in the fi rst place. Due to the uniform horizontal coffee-growing lands throughout Brazil, the country was ripe for modernization, and tech- nological advances such as mechanized harvesters have helped boost effi ciency and productivity. Harvesting is done totally differently here than in other produc- ing countries. Brazil's robust economy means it's most cost-effective for producers to harvest all at once, which is why you see so much strip-picking in Brazil. Some members of our group were initially horrifi ed to see greens, over-ripes, and even sticks among the lush burgundy cherry on the raised beds we visited. How could this be the same beautiful coffee they just cupped? It's because Brazilian farmers almost exclusively use the wet- and dry-mill processing to separate and sort the cherry. What about the question of whether mechanical harvesters displace people looking for work? Because harvesting in Brazil is done in one fell swoop—typically in 75–100 days from start to fi nish—it's hard to source short-term labor. However, there are still plenty of jobs to be fi lled: drivers, technicians, patio support, mill operators, etc. Are the trees damaged in the mechanical harvesting process? As one expert commented on that Instagram thread, "If the machine defoliates the trees, there will be no harvest next year. Farmers know that; only machines that won't hurt trees are sustainable." Friends, that was the just day one of the Ally Coffee Champions Trip. The education didn't slow down for another six, when we board- ed our planes for home. It's been great to see more baristas not only traveling to coffee-pro- ducing countries in the past decade, but actually being invited and welcomed not only for the expertise they can offer from bar experi- ence, but for their future in the industry, as well. Few quality roasters and company owners haven't worked as a barista at some point, and investing in the potential and prospects that some of the best baristas have is truly a no-brainer. When Ally took over the Origin Trip Sponsorship for the United States Coffee Competitions and World Coffee Events, however, Ri- cardo sought to involve coffee experts from even more areas of coffee specialization. He told me before we left on the trip: "If you think of all a barista can take home from an experience like this, as well as how much a barista can teach a producer, just think about how much more we could do by bringing other kinds of coffee champions along?" For its fi rst champions trip in 2016, Ally invited not only the United States and World Barista Champions, but also the United States Roaster Champion, and the U.S. and World Brewers Cup Champs. Oh, and they also invited the United States runners-up in Barista, Brewers Cup, and Roaster for good measure. This year, Ally expanded the group to include the fi rst- and sec- ond-place fi nishers in the United States Cup Tasters Championship, as well as the World Cup Tasters Champion. Of course, trying to merge the schedules of so many champions from around the world is virtually impossible, so we had some subs due to schedule confl icts. I had no complaints—I don't think anyone did. Ours was an excep- tional group all around, and you don't say that often about intense, multi-day trips that involve long drives and longer days. Our group consisted of USBC Champ Kyle Ramage and runner-up Andrea Allen, 35 www.baristamagazine.com

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