Coffee Picking, Classes, and Depulping on Day One at Barista & Farmer

Were in Colombia right now with the team at Barista & Farmer, the competition and reality show that brings baristas from all over the world to learn about the coffee supply chain. Here are some of our favorite moments so far.


Things are underway at Barista & Farmer, a coffee competition and reality show—taking place in Colombia for this edition—that connects two ends of the coffee supply chain in an immersive 10-day learning experience. Its not really a reality show in the way youre thinking, shared Francesco Sanapo, organizer of the event, which is now in its fourth season. Its a reality show in that the baristas will do everything a farmer really does on a day-to-day basis.

A depulper at Finca Bella Vista, where the competition began for 10 baristas from all over the world. Bella Vista is in the Huila Department of Colombia, just a few miles outside of the town of Pitalito. Baristas competed in a depulping competition after picking coffee cherries.

The 10 baristas kicked off the events first full day with a picking competition (which, true to the experience of coffee pickers, they will do every day of the competition), where competitors were assigned a coffee tree and asked to pick as many cherries as possible. Baristas were given a hand by members of the Associación de Mujeres Cafeteras del Occidente del Huila, a womens coffee organization based in the area. Each barista was paired with a member of the association, who showed them how to pick cherries, how to identify under- and over-ripe beans, and provided support as the baristas attempted to pick as many quality coffee cherries as possible.

Each barista competitor was paired with a member of La Associación de Mujeres Cafeteras del Occidente del Huila. Heres Rie Hasuda Moore (from Japan but currently residing in the United States) bringing her coffee cherries to be weighed.

Throughout the event, the baristas’ performance is judged by three coffee experts: Rebecca Atienza, general manager of Hacienda San Pedro in Puerto Rico, which was the location of the first Barista & Farmer event; Scott Conary, owner of four cafés in Chapel Hill, N.C., along with his coffee roastery, Carrboro Coffee Roasters; and Sonja Grant, owner of Kaffibrugghúsið in Iceland and a World Barista Championship-certified head judge.

Scott Conary (left) taking a random sample of the coffees picked by competitors, who were judged both on the quantity and the quality of their coffee in this first competition.

The barista competitors were surrounded by and cheered on by members of Finca Buena Vista, a farm just outside Pitalito in the Huila Department. The competitors will be traveling to other farms throughout the competition.

Waiting for the results of the coffee weigh-in with Maria (left), the youngest member of La Associación de Mujeres Cafeteras del Occidente del Huila, and Iuliia Dziadevych, a Barista & Farmer competitor from Ukraine.

The competitors spent their first day picking in a rainstorm, which they were told was not unusual and they would continue as usual. Raise your hand if you fell while you were picking, asked Francesco. Almost all the baristas raised their hands.

The group of 20 baristas and association members trekked through mud to pick coffee cherries.

After their coffees were weighed and sorted, the baristas used the coffee they picked in a depulping competition. The association members had to run the coffees to the depulper, and then the baristas had two minutes to manually depulp as much coffee as possible, which turned out to be much more strenuous than most anticipated.

Baristas had to depulp as much coffee as they could, which was exhausting and difficult. On one end came out coffee seeds, and on the other end was coffee cherry pulp.

After the depulping competition, the baristas were brought to the edge of the farm to announce the winner of the weight portion of the competition (the results of the quality portion will be held back for another day) and the depulping competition.

The judges with the 10 competitors lined up, waiting for the results of the competitions from earlier in the day.

The weight competition was a tie between David Lau – Cong Yuan of China and Daniel Munari of Brazil. The depulping competition was won by Diego Campos, the hometown representative from Colombia.

David (right) and Daniel tied for the most coffee picked. However, they will still be judged on the quality of that coffee picked—which will be revealed later in the competition.

After the competitions, the baristas were brought to SENA (National Vocational Training Agency or Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje) a public institution focused on free vocational training for Colombian citizens in the southern region who cannot afford college tuition or have faced personal hardship. The school houses programs focused on civil engineering, agronomy, and gastronomy, and also boasts a seed-to-cup coffee training facility. There, the baristas cupped coffees from a farm focused on sustainability, with many of the baristas sharing that this was their first cupping. This is also where the baristas will be staying during their time in Colombia.

Rie evaluating samples of coffees from a sustainability project from a local farm.

After classes, the baristas have events planned every day focusing on Colombian culture, from painting traditional chivas (buses that have become symbols of rural Colombia) to traditional dancing lessons. Well continued to keep you updated on the progress of the competition as the week goes on, so stay tuned for more!

About Ashley Rodriguez 413 Articles
Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She's based in Chicago. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at