A Report from Barista & Farmer 2016: Brazil
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.
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 Baristafarmer.com and on its YouTube channel. A feature will be released at the World Barista Championship this June in Dublin, Ireland.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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! http://www.baristafarmer.com/index/