Café Imports Barista Champs Trip to Colombia: A Snapshot

As our journey comes to a close, here are some photos of the best moments of the Café Imports Barista Champs Trip to Colombia

An intrepid group of coffee travelers gathered in Bogotá, Colombia, early in the morning on Sunday, October 11, at the Hilton Hotel. After a short night of sleep (since we had all arrived from various points of origin, from Australia to Canada to the United States), we were on our way to the first stop on our very special journey through some of Colombia’s most famous and exciting coffee-producing regions. Our amazing host: Café Imports, which since 2011 has been treating the 6 U.S. Regional Barista Champs, and the United States and World Barista Champs (plus some lucky journalists and a few guests) to trips of a lifetime, exploring some of the most fantastic and storied coffee-growing countries on the planet.

I’m writing right now from the balcony of our loft in Cali, Colombia, where we’re coming to the sad realization that our trip is soon drawing to a close. Tomorrow, we fly back to Bogotá, where we will visit the Juan Valdez flagship café, Origenes, and then take a spin through the show floor of the awesome ExpoEspeciales, which is the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation’s annual conference and expo, and the biggest and most well-attended coffee event in all of Central and South America.

My  in-depth account of our 7-day adventure will appear in the December+January 2016 issue of Barista Magazine. I’ve also been updating Barista Magazine’s Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts regularly throughout the trip. But I wanted to also offer a glimpse into our exciting trip here, while the wind’s still loud in my ears, while my mosquito bites still itch, and while my mind is full of all the wonder that is Colombia. Here we go!

Café Imports Barista Champs Trip to Colombia: A Snapshot
First stop: Lovely, welcoming San Agustin, and the breathtaking Hacienda Anacoana.
Café Imports Barista Champs Trip to Colombia: A Snapshot
San Agustin feels like a village, and a friendly, colorful one at that. We stayed in San Agustin for the first 4 nights of our trip in order to visit members of the Los Naranjos Cooperative, and cup their spectacular coffees.
Café Imports Barista Champs Trip to Colombia: A Snapshot
Exporter Fairfield Trading Co., and the delightful Alejandro Renjifo took our group to some amazing places, both in the mountains and in the cupping lab. Here, Lem Butler (SE Regional Barista Champ), Sam Lewontin (NE Regional Barista Champ), and Radames Roldan (SC Regional Barista Champ) cup lots from Los Naranjos.
Café Imports Barista Champs Trip to Colombia: A Snapshot
Alejandro of Fairfield Trading Co. treated us to a visit to a stunning family-run cacao farm during our time in San Agustin. At the farm, Rad fell in love with a few bird friends.
Café Imports Barista Champs Trip to Colombia: A Snapshot
We learned a lot about cacao production, processing, and roasting! The group found the education fascinating considering how similar it is to coffee.
Café Imports Barista Champs Trip to Colombia: A Snapshot
We drove a few hours to Pitalito to visit Finca El Mirador, which is owned by Elkin Guzman’s family. Elkin is the agronomist for Banexports, the coffee-development company  leading us through the second half of our trip. Here, from left, NC Regional Champ Ryan Soeder, Nuova Simonelli’s Gianni Cassation, Lem Butler, NW Regional Barista Champ Sam Schroeder, and Rad, learn about the Banexports team’s  unique processing experiments.
Café Imports Barista Champs Trip to Colombia: A Snapshot
One of the favorite cupping sessions of the trip was this one, hosted by Banexports, which featured a single lot of Castillo processed in 10 different ways. Yes, that’s World Barista Champion Sasa Septic of Australia in the front left.
Café Imports Barista Champs Trip to Colombia: A Snapshot
At Inmaculada Coffee Farms outside of Cali, we saw some very rare and intriguing varietals such as Eugenoids, and processing methods that included raised beds (shown), greenhouses, and more. Here, Sasa and Sam get a good look at the naturals.
Café Imports Barista Champs Trip to Colombia: A Snapshot
Sam Lewontin and Lem chat as they cross a sturdy bridge on a gorgeous trail through Inmaculada.
Café Imports Barista Champs Trip to Colombia: A Snapshot
Café Imports took such good care of our group! Here, Luis “Lucho” Arochau, who works with growers throughout South and Central America, poses for a photo at our insistence.
Café Imports Barista Champs Trip to Colombia: A Snapshot
Our fearless leader on the journey was none other than Noah Namowicz, who among other things, can do 13 pull-ups at an elevation of 2,000 meters above sea level.
Café Imports Barista Champs Trip to Colombia: A Snapshot
Rounding out this incredible group from Café Imports has been the fabulous Jessica Brotzler, who made sure we never went hungry or thirsty, who made us laugh even when we were dead tired, who is a hella dope cupper, and consumer of many steaks. Thanks for the love, Fiddy.
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