We’re 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.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
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. “It’s not really a reality show in the way you’re thinking,” shared Francesco Sanapo, organizer of the event, which is now in its fourth season. “It’s a reality show in that the baristas will do everything a farmer really does on a day-to-day basis.”
The 10 baristas kicked off the event’s 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 women’s 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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. We’ll continued to keep you updated on the progress of the competition as the week goes on, so stay tuned for more!