The Adventure in Ecuador Begins for Barista Champs and Café Imports Hosts
Editor’s note: Barista Magazine publisher Kenneth Olson is in Ecuador with the lucky seven baristas who were awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Ecuador by Café Imports, a green coffee sourcing company known for finding exquisite coffees for some of the best baristas in the world to use in competition. To read the itinerary of the trip and some more background, go HERE. The internet in the hotels where the baristas are staying is spotty, so Ken emailed me a bunch of photos and some description about their first two days of travel, so I could post about it here. Enjoy!
“Yesterday we drove northwest for a couple of hours from Quito to a region called Perla Nanegal. Quito is at 10,000 feet, so we had to drive down to get to coffee farms (they were at 1300-1500 meters). First we went to one called Finca Cinqo (for the five hectares it’s on). It was a simple but beautiful farm. Joe [Marrocco of Café Imports] made coffee from that farm that Café Imports bought for the farmer and his family. He made an impromptu brew bar with a bucket.
“Then we went to another farm called Finca Maputo owned by a couple named Henry Gaibor and Verena Blaser. While there we met a Swiss barista (and three-time Swiss Coffee in Good Spirits champ) Sandra-Daniela Stucki. She’s living and working on the farm for six months. She’s been there so far for three. She learned about it from the Swiss champ who competed in the WBC in Vienna (Philipp Meier, who has also lived and worked there.)
“We stayed at a lodge on a nature preserve that night that’s known for its hummingbirds, and there were loads of them about when we had breakfast before getting in the bus and heading back towards Quito.
“We stopped to see the equator and took pictures. (It’s like the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz or the Oregon Vortex ”a kind of roadside attraction) but the Ecuadorians are very proud of it and it was fun to see.
“Then we stopped just outside Quito to visit Cafe Galletti, a dry mill and roastery where we cupped about two dozen Ecuadorian coffees.
“Then we went into historic Quito (the colonial downtown is well preserved and a UNESCO world heritage site). We had a terrific lunch downtown and then went on a walking tour through the old city.
“After the tour, we got back on the bus and went to another colonial building on a hillside in Quito. The building has been converted into an exhibition space, and in the old church in the building, the Ecuadorians arranged a Q&A and barista jam. Some 70 people were there to meet the baristas and learn about specialty coffee. Though no one knew what to expect when we arrived, it was really terrific and the baristas loved it.
“After the Q&A, there was a brief demo of latte art and then a throwdown of the international baristas versus the Ecuadorians, with members of the audience chosen at random to judge. There was a really great vibe and energy in the building and everyone had a terrific time.
“Tomorrow we head further north toward the Colombian border…”