Good morning Bridgehead peoples! I’m writing from Guatemala City where we are about to begin the Guatemalan Barista Championship!! Yesterday we concluded two days of National Judges Certification, and we have a team of qualified professionals ready to help the next Guatemalan Barista Champion show us why they are the one to represent the country in Bogota, Colombia at next year’s WBC!
I’m quite excited for this competition — the skill level should be quite high given the tremendous success Guatemala has had at the WBC in recent years. Much like in Canada with Sammy Piccolo’s multiple showings at the world championship and of course the other the Artigiano champions that have gone as well, I expect the baristas here have been motivated and inspired by Raul Rodas who placed 7th (I believe…) in 2009 Atlanta and 2nd in 2010 London.
Anacafe, (the Associacion Nacional del Cafe) – an producers’ organization dedicated to promoting Guatemalan coffees and providing education, amongst other roles – is organizing the event at their headquarters along with the Guatemalan Cup Tasters’ Championship and other events (there is even a stage set up for some famous pop/rock bands to show us Internationals how to party in Guate!). It’s part of an event they call “Coffee Fest”, aimed at promoting awareness of excellent coffee here in Guatemala.
Between judging here and in Colombia a couple of weeks ago it’s been inspiring to see the skill level of baristas improve as well as the strong development of specialty coffee retailing and roasting in producing countries. Although the baristas here don’t always have access to the latest equipment and coffee tools, there is still tremendous expertise, dedication and overall a blossoming barista scene. With roasters able to literally able drive up to some of the best coffee farms in the world to select their coffees, it makes me somewhat jelous! Sometimes the connection to the farm is even stronger — Finca El Injerto, a rather famous farm from Huehuetenango, has its own cafe pretty close to where the event is being held. We haven’t been yet, but I suspect we will go shortly.
If you have a moment, the competition will be streamed live here: Ustream Link
I’ll bring my camera today to share some of the action with you in my next post. I’ll likely be busy judging all day, but I’ll do my best!