Livin’ the Dream

I write to you today from sunny, beautiful Salvador in Brazil… ah, paradise… our hosts on this magical origin trip ”Cafe Imports ”have set us up nicely: we’re staying at a beachside resort, newlywed style.

Yeah, this’ll do…

After a nerve-wracking layover in Miami, when Sam Purvis (NW Regional Barista Champ, Coava Coffee barista, and my fello from-Portland traveler) and I were told we might not be allowed on the plane, we made it aboard to find the familiar faces of NE Barista Champ Philip Search of Dallis Bros., NC Champ Ryan Knapp of MadCap, and Michael Harwood of Carrboro Coffee). Three cheers for the successful travelers! A mere 8 hours later, we were on the ground in Salvador for the first leg of our 10-day origin adventure.

We are way east on this map, in Salvador. This trip will take us all over the countryside and also Sao Paolo.

Cafe Imports gifted this trip to the winners of all the Regional Barista Competitions, plus the USBC and WBC winners. Yep, that means we would meet up with Joe Marrocco, MW Champ, of Kaldi’s; Pete Licata, who is both the Western Champ and the USBC Champ, and hails from Honolulu Coffee Co., and the amazing Alejandro Mendez, WBC Champ, hailing from Viva Espresso in El Salvador, here in Brazil.

Other travelers? Our amazing hosts, Tim and Noah from Cafe Imports; Jake, a filmmaker for Funny or Die (along on the trip to shoot video of our exploits — also, Jake is Noah’s brother); and two special guest stars, Gianni from Nuova Simonelli and Reg from Reg Barber Tampers! Oh, and lucky little me, Sarah from Barista Mag. I’m along for the ride to write an article, which will appear in the August/September issue of Barista Magazine.

Our first order of business upon arriving at the hotel? Make coffee! Michael pulled out his hand crank grinder, while bags of beans brought from home were assembled on top of a beachside table. Hot water procurement was a challenge, but with a group like this, stellar coffee was soon brewing right up.

Having arrived at the hotel around 7 a.m., we were not going to be able to check into our rooms until noon. So what was our ragtag group to do but change into swimsuits and head to the beach and pool!

Want. To. Swim. But. Can’t. Stop. Talking. About. Coffee.

Soon enough, we met up with Alejandro as he arrived from his El Salvador originating flight. And from the reception the guys who hadn’t yet met Alejandro gave him, it was obvious this group with going to gel with natural ease.

Even a postcard-perfect pool scene wasn’t enough to keep us awake for long though. Once rooms were ready, we all headed in to get some shut eye and recoup after the hella long travel day. Was it a good thing that all of our rooms come with patios equipped with hammocks? I asn’t so sure when, after dozing off immediately in mine, I could barely get out of the damn thing.

Just one more thing I have to master here in paradise…

We head back to the lobby soon to meet up with the folks we have yet to see, as they would be arriving after we did: Noah, Tim, Gianni, Reg, and Joe. I’m stoked! Silvio has been a gracious host to us all so far, welcoming us at the airport, and then tonight, he and his Agricafe are taking us out for a Salvador style meal!

Tomorrow the fun and games are over. Well, maybe just the “games” part, as I’m pretty sure the fun will carry on. We’ll spend the day with Silvio doing intensive cuppings of new crop Brazils, and also some defect cupping exercises. Should be an awesome day! Because c’mon now — how could it not be, with this group, in this setting?

About Sarah 932 Articles
Sarah Allen (she/her) is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.