European Barista Camp 2015 Delivers Education, Entertainment and Community
The second European Barista Camp came to a close today in Riccione, Italy, with attendees spending the morning taking their certification exams before grabbing a shuttle back to Bologna and points beyond.
Building off the success of last year’s Barista Guild of Europe’s inaugural camp in Athens, Greece, this year brought more attendees with access to more education tracks along with another chance for not just face-to-face education with some of the most respected minds in specialty coffee to the seaside city of Riccione, Italy from September 22-26. But it also gave the European baristas a chance to make and cement friendships and extend their community across numerous borders. Approximately 25 countries had baristas at the camp, with the greatest number coming from the United Kingdom and the host country of Italy.
Three of the five education tracks, Intermediate Barista, sold out or came close to it, and while the total number of attendees eclipsed last year’s mark, the event itself did not quite sell out.
Still, it was a solid second installment of the European Barista Camp, and its success means that another camp will come again, around this same time next year. The official announcement (and early bird ticket sales) should be made at or near the World of Coffee event in Dublin, Ireland in June 2016. And though not all tracks sold out, all of the early bird tickets did, so if you want that discount, set a reminder now so you can get your ticket as soon as they go on sale.
Since each ticket to the event covers all meals, lodging, airport transfers, and certification, European Barista Camp really delivers a bargain for the price.
This year some of the highlights were a fascinating speech by Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood about the effects water has on coffee: short answer a lot, and revealing answer, coffee is roasted for the coffee the roaster uses in their cupping.
Also popular were Sang Ho Park’s talk about building a common lexicon for taste, specifically, his work with James Hoffmann at creating a tasting set for defects, so that cuppers all over the world (and coffee producers) can calibrate their palates to recognize common defects.
Christian Klatt from Mahlkoenig spoke about the challenges of grinder technology and what to do about the heat transferred from the grinder to the beans. While Rina Paguaga gave a presentation on her family’s history of coffee farming in Nicaragua and the challenges growers face there.
Each day began with individual tracks, where attendees focused on getting the skills and knowledge necessary to pass practical and written certification exams. This included a lot of time in lectures and hands-on learning. One of the cool things about this camp was the fact that it had not one or two, but five! machine sponsors! This meant that attendees had the chance to work on some of the best espresso machines in the world from Victoria Arduino, La Marzocco, Wega, Dalla Corte, and San Remo.
Additionally, the organizers took a lot of feedback they received from last year’s European Barista Camp to heart, and one of the big things they heard were that attendees felt too overwhelmed by the schedule. So this year, they built in extra time each day for studying, practice, talking with instructors, or if they’d rather just relax.
And I’ve gone this far without even talking about all of the fun and zaniness that also goes along with camp. And of course there was plenty of that too. Each evening after dinner was set aside for team challenges, like blind latte art, bad beer tasting, or a beachside pool party regardless that the early autumn weather brought with it buckets of rain from straight out of the Adriatic Sea.
The work and concern put into this event to make sure attendees get not just a great value for their money, but that it helps build a vibrant and engaged barista community across the continent really make it one of the highlights of the year for me, and I am thankful that I’ve been lucky enough to make it to camp twice. I know that I’m already looking forward to June, to find out where European Barista Camp is going next!
And if you’re looking for more about camp, check out the Instagram hashtag #BaristaCampEU to see loads of great pics from attendees.