Volunteering at The Barista League: Mexico City Edition

The Barista League, the global coffee event that mixes competition and party, recently came to Mexico City. Here’s how the evening went, as experienced by a volunteer. 

BY TANYA NANETTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT

Photos by Eduardo Lima, courtesy of The Barista League

For many years, I’ve followed The Barista League and the famous events they organize all over the world. 

The Barista League events are self-described as “a party disguised as a coffee competition,” with nights that include “three rounds of wild challenges, good vibes, plenty of drinks, and a DJ.” Getting involved in one of The Barista League events seemed like a wonderful idea.  

That’s why, finding out that the Mexico City event would take place during our stay in the city, Endri and I decided we wanted to be part of it. 

Ten volunteers pose together for a photo, all in their black event t shirts.
The volunteers at the Mexico City event.

Volunteering

First, we tried to apply as competitors, but there were far too many applications and we weren’t selected. The next move was obvious: apply again, this time as volunteers. 

A couple of weeks later, our participation as volunteers was confirmed. We were in! 

Being the only ones in the volunteer team from abroad, with limited knowledge of Spanish, we were designated Cleaning Captains, in charge of delivering clean cups and taking care of all the expensive equipment. It seemed similar to our daily job at the bar, and we were sure we wouldn’t have any problems with the task. 

The Event

On March 5, we were ready for our first Barista League event. At the local event hall Foro Indierocks, we met the other volunteers as well as Ximena Rubio, partnerships manager for The Barista League.

Four people pose for the camera by the bar. Two women have long brown hair, two men have mustaches; one wears glasses and a hat.
Over 700 people attended the competition in Mexico City.

We had a short briefing and tasted all the delicious coffees available. Then, dressed in our new crew T-shirts, all of us volunteers took our positions. Guests were arriving, and the party was about to begin.  

Endri was stationed on the balcony, by the Toddy and Oatly stands, which served delicious cocktails. They needed a constant supply of clean glassware to keep serving the hundreds of thirsty patrons.  

Especially popular was the Mexican Negroni served by Holger Lente, the super-friendly director of brand development for Toddy, who was playing bartender. His cocktail mix of cold brew, tequila, and secret ingredients was so loved by customers that the stand ran out of drinks several times during the night. 

I was mainly in charge of coordinating between the washing of all the glassware that was taking place downstairs and all the small stands that constantly needed cups and glasses.

Enrique and Sebastian work the bar in the Barista League competition in Mexico City. They wear pink and black jerseys with the word Muñecos and the number 96 on the front.
Enrique Valle (left) and Sebastián Bonelli (right) were the people behind Dirty Fingers, the night’s winning team.

A Huge Turnout

Raymundo, Alexis, Lizeth, Christian, Alonso, Estefany, and Greys (all the other wonderful volunteers) took care of everything else, from registration to the merch stand to (of fundamental importance) setting up the main stand where the three rounds of competitions would be held. 

In less than an hour, the venue was completely filled. More than 700 people (only 300 were expected) showed up. This was the biggest event to date in the history of The Barista League! 

We hardly had time to follow the competition, with so many unexpected guests. But, helped by the useful staff of the venue, we all managed to keep up the pace, and the whole evening went smoothly. 

Shot being pulled into a Barista League print mug under a grouphead.
At The Barista League Mexico City competition, 12 teams went head to head.

The Winners

When we finally got some rest, the party was almost over. Luckily there was still time to witness the crowning of the Dirty Fingers (Sebastián Bonelli and Enrique Valle) as the winning team. We got to meet Luis Enrique The Gay Barista, host of the entire evening, in person. He was a longtime friend who until then we had only known online. 

All in all, the Mexican edition of The Barista League was a true party, even for us volunteers. 

We had the opportunity to learn more about the organization of a large coffee event, we tasted good coffee and delicious cocktails, and we met old friends and discovered new ones. 

It was definitely a great night, which we hope to someday repeat. Next time, perhaps as competitors!  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tanya Nanetti (she/her) is a specialty-coffee barista, a traveler, and a dreamer. When she’s not behind the coffee machine (or visiting some hidden corner of the world), she’s busy writing for Coffee Insurrection, a website about specialty coffee that she’s creating along with her boyfriend. 

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