Barista & Farmer Colombia kicks off Friday. The event—part coffee competition, part reality show—has baristas from all over the world travel to the famed origin for an immersive coffee experience.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Barista & Farmer
You might be wondering what Barista & Farmer—a competition created by Francesco Sanapo, Italian barista champion and owner of Ditta Artigianale in Florence, Italy—actually is. Touted as part competition, part reality show, the event brings together 10 baristas, many still new in their coffee careers, for an almost all-expenses-paid trip to a coffee region to learn about how coffee is grown, produced, and processed.
In its fourth edition—launching this week—the event will bring baristas from countries like China, Ukraine, and Brazil to farms all around Colombia. Barista & Farmer is hosted in partnership with Italian Exhibition Group, Sigep, and the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), as well as institutional partners like the Istituto Italo-Latino Americano (IILA) and the Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (National Learning Service, or SENA), in collaboration with World Coffee Events. Barista Magazine will serve as the event’s media sponsor.
To enter the competition, baristas sent videos of themselves engaging with their town and their local coffee scene. Over 250 applicants were whittled down to 10, and the winning baristas will not only travel around Colombia learning about coffee farming, but will get exclusive access to SCA-certified classes and coffee education classes from experts like Sonja Grant (WCE Judge and Icelandic specialty coffee pioneer) and Scott Conary (owner of Caffe Driade, Open Eye Cafe, and Carrboro Coffee Roasters in Chapel Hill, N.C.).
In years past, Barista & Farmer has brought folks to countries like Brazil, Honduras, and Puerto Rico, highlighting coffee regions pivotal to the specialty-coffee industry; this year’s competition in Colombia is no different. Colombia is the third biggest exporter of coffee and the largest producer of Arabica coffee; coffee accounts for 17 percent of the country’s total GDP. Most of Colombia’s coffee comes from small farms, with 96 percent of farmers owning less than five hectares of land.
Along with producing videos as part of their application, baristas will also participate in short films and video diaries throughout the competition, which will be available at the end of each day and will culminate in a video summarizing the entire trip. As baristas travel to farms and learn more about how coffee is produced, they will participate in competitions incorporating what they see and learn, such as a coffee-picking race or a depulping coffee challenge, throughout the trip. Ultimately, this trip is meant to bring baristas closer to the folks who produce the coffees they work with, giving them a greater, more holistic sense of how the coffee industry works and the labor required to produce amazing coffee. And, like every competition, a winner will be crowned at the end.
We’ll be on location with the baristas during Barista & Farmer and will update you on the progress of the trip! Continue checking back for updates about this exciting event!