Barista & Farmer 2016: Brazil – Report from the Ground

A Report from Barista & Farmer 2016: Brazil

Barista & Farmer 2016: Brazil - Report from the Ground
The baristas welcome the arrival of Barista & Farmer President Rebecca Atienza to O Coffee.

The third installment of the innovative educational program, reality show, and competition, Barista & Farmer began this week in Brazil. Ten baristas from around the world were selected to participate in the event. They were chosen after submitting video applications and collecting votes via social media. They come from Poland, Russia, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Australia, Indonesia, Greece, and of course Italy.

Barista & Farmer 2016: Brazil
After a long morning of picking coffee, the baristas’ buckets and boots sit outside the O Coffee building.

While in Brazil, the baristas will participate in a number of challenges (new this year, they’ve been divided into two teams of five) and take classes about coffee. Oh yeah, and they’ll work on coffee farms. And everything is filmed. Daily videos are posted at and on its YouTube channel. A feature will be released at the World Barista Championship this June in Dublin, Ireland.

Barista & Farmer 2016: Brazil
The immaculate coffee fields of O Coffee.

For the first part of the trip, that meant rising before the sun, to get out and start picking coffee as soon as first light crossed the sky. The baristas worked on O Coffee‘s farm (they will visit the company’s flagship café in Sao Paulo after wrapping up the farm portion of the trip). The baristas then scored points based on the weight of their cherry and the quality of the coffee. While at O Coffee, the baristas also got to see firsthand mechanical pickers and the stripping technique of hand picking commonly employed in Brazil.

Barista & Farmer 2016: Brazil
The sun sets behind O Coffee’s wet mill as another day of Barista & Farmer draws to a close.

Brazilian coffee farms tend to be enormous, and like most coffee producing countries, labor is becoming scarcer and scarcer, meaning the harvest must depend on the most cost-effective harvesting available. Frequently that requires some sort of mechanical assistance to get the cherry off the tree and to the mill in a timely fashion.

Barista & Farmer 2016: Brazil
Loading wood into the furnace for the mechanical dryers at O Coffee.

The baristas, though of many backgrounds and nationalities, have formed close bonds and obviously enjoying being together. It’s always rewarding and fun to spend time with a group of people who are all so enthusiastic about the opportunity programs like Barista & Farmer provide, and it is another reinforcement of the global scale of coffee community, when such disparate nationalities have a common passion.

Barista & Farmer 2016: Brazil
Coffee isn’t the only thing raised on O Coffee’s farms.
Barista & Farmer 2016: Brazil
Just like with the coffee, the baristas couldn’t resist being involved in this part of the farm too. Puerto Rican barista Daniel Rivera holds a lamb next to O Coffee’s Edgard Bressani.

After visiting O Coffee in the north of Sao Paulo state, the crew took a long, winding bus ride through the fields on mountains of Brazil to Minas Gerais, the largest coffee-producing state in the country, to visit Santa Quitéria, a farm outside of Lambari (a town known for its mineral water).

Barista & Farmer 2016: Brazil
The baristas are ready for another round of coffee picking during Barista & Farmer 2016: Brazil.

The baristas were paired up with local coffee farmers to pick coffee for their morning competition. After an afternoon educational session on certifications and sustainability, the baristas will team back up with the farmers, and switching roles, the baristas will teach the farmers how to pour latte art. The farmers will then compete in a throwdown this evening.

Barista & Farmer 2016: Brazil
Baristas pick coffee with farmers while film crews record it all.

Later this week, the baristas will visit the mammoth port of Santos where most of the country’s coffee is exported, and then tour cafés in Sao Paulo.

Barista & Farmer 2016: Brazil
The winners from the morning coffee picking contest pose with their haul!

And if all of this sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, know this, plans are already underway for the next version coming to a coffee-producing country somewhere in 2017. Stay tuned to Barista & Farmer’s website for all the information!

About Ken 263 Articles
Kenneth R. Olson (he/him) is co-founder and publisher of Barista Magazine the worldwide trade magazine for the professional coffee community. He has written extensively about specialty coffee, traveled near and far for stories, activities, and fun, and been invited to present on topics important to coffee culture. He is also an avid fan of the Portland Trail Blazers, the Washington Huskies, and public libraries.