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Last week saw Riccione play host to the second annual Barista Guild of Europe, Barista Camp. The camp is aimed at working baristas with the intention of educating, inspiring and equipping baristas with new skills.
As part of our commitment to the UKBC as main roaster sponsors, Bewleys promised to take the best newcomer to Barista Camp 2015. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to accompany William Pitts (best UKBC newcomer 2015) and take part in the event.
Day one of the camp sees baristas arriving for registration and introductions to new and old faces. The atmosphere is buzzing as we apprehend what the next few days will bring. Andrew Tolley opens the proceedings with a discussion on profitability within the coffee shop industry and how ‘profitability is not a dirty word’.
Following Tolley’s words of wisdom we break off into our groups for learning. Prior to camp you are given the opportunity to choose which would be your preferred SCAE module to take during the three days. I opted for Sensory Intermediate so off I went to meet my sensory colleagues and our teachers for the week Patrick O’Malley, Andrew Tolley and Lauro Fiorelli.
The course is a combination of theory and practical examinations. We are tested on our ability to sense coffee visually, nasally and orally. Each one of these elements provides its challenges so I was very pleased when I received a certificate to say I passed my practical and written tests!
The camp organisers did a fantastic job of filling every minute of the day with coffee information and learning as we sat down for seminars and panel discussions in the afternoons.
I particularly enjoyed Sang Ho Park’s presentation on standardising flavours as this tied in well with the sensory course.
Day 2 sees us focusing on preparation for exams and more talks from well-regarded coffee professionals. Scott Rao has long been on my radar (his barista handbooks are essential reading for any budding baristas) so I thoroughly enjoyed his presentation on the refractometer and its application within the industry.
By day three of camp it feels like we have formed some life long friendships with fellow coffee lovers. I was honoured to spend time with Rina Pagagua who is a producer from a farm in Nicaragua. Her stories of how the farm has focused on improving standards and responding to difficulties as a small business were inspiring. Rina’s coffee was a highlight on the cupping table and I hope to experience her coffee again soon!
I can highly recommend the Barista Camp experience to baristas of any level and I look forward to seeing how the Barista Guild of Europe grows and develops in coming years.