Café Imports Takes Barista Champs to Ecuador!

Quito sits at almost 10,000 feet above sea level, making its international airport one of the highest in the world.

For the fourth year, Café Imports Treats Barista Champions to Education and Excitement in An Origin Country

Barista Magazine publisher Kenneth Olson left yesterday for Ecuador (Portland-Chicago-Miami-Quito, phew!) to join Café Imports on their annual source trip for the United States Regional and national barista champs, as well as the World Barista Champion. It’s such an honor for us to be invited on these trips—Café Imports does a phenomenal job of celebrating the accomplishments of baristas, and these trips are some of the most exciting experiences we’ve had. Not only do Café Imports staffers plan visits to exceptional mills, stunning farms, and impressive cupping labs, but they present a wealth of education about the country and its culture all along the way. I was lucky enough to join Café Imports on its first barista champ trip to Brazil back in 2011. Since then, Ken has joined them for excursions to Costa Rica, Kenya, and now Ecuador.

Café Imports has taken barista champions to origin countries for the past 4 years. Destinations have included Costa Rica, Brazil, Kenya, and now, this week, Ecuador.

Café Imports has taken barista champions to origin countries for the past 4 years. Destinations have included Costa Rica, Brazil, Kenya, and now, this week, Ecuador.

Café Imports‘ Joe Marrocco will be one of the leaders of the trip this week. Interestingly, Joe was on that first trip to Brazil not as a Café Imports staffer, but as a regional barista champion. In the following year, he was hired by Café Imports, and it was a match made in heaven. I asked Joe last week to tell me a little about why he was excited for this upcoming trip to Ecuador:

“Ecuador is a country that has a dear place in my heart,” Joe said. “This was the first place outside of the U.S. that I traveled to at the age of 18. My mother-in-law is from Ecuador, and that entire side of my wife’s family lives there. Ecuador is lush and bright, diverse in visual appeal, geography, and culture. I cannot wait to be back!

“Bringing some of the top baristas from this year’s barista championship circuit is about more than showing them the sights, however. In the past, we have brought baristas to countries with deep coffee history and established coffee cultures: Brazil, Kenya, and Costa Rica. These are countries that even moderately aware coffee consumers have on the tips of their tongues. Ecuador, not so much. Ecuador is still new and small. Coffee is beginning to grow there, but has so far to go. This will be a trip of “befores,” whereas the others have been trips of “afters.” Ten years, twenty years, thirty years down the road, when the baristas revisit Ecuador, drink Ecuadorian coffee, and look back on this experience, they will have the perspective of how far Ecuador has progressed. This will be a unique piece of their coffee industry education.  

“Despite the newness and relative smallness of specialty coffee in Ecuador, the coffees that we are seeing from this origin are outrageously exquisite. Rare beauties have been popping up more and more over the last couple of years, and we feel we will see even more bountiful quality this year. The flavor profiles are new and different. We are so excited to share this with our barista champion friends.”

Quito sits at almost 10,000 feet above sea level, making its international airport one of the highest in the world.

Quito sits at almost 10,000 feet above sea level, making its international airport one of the highest in the world.

Ken emailed me late last night when he arrived from the airport to the hotel in Quito. He said the plan was to meet for breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and then head out on the first day of this amazing weeklong trip. Ken will blog from the road (as internet permits), and he will also write an in-depth article about the trip for the October+November issue of Barista Magazine.

On the trip, baristas will explore coffee farms and mills, as well as some special excursions to the old part of Quito (pictured) as well as a cacao farm.

On the trip, baristas will explore coffee farms and mills, as well as some special excursions to the old part of Quito (pictured) as well as a cacao farm.

I thought you guys might want to follow along with the group’s itinerary here, so without further ado…

Café Imports staffers on the trip: Joe Marrocco, Piero Cristiani, Kate Moss, Andy Reiland

Baristas:
Charles Babinski, G&B Coffee, Los Angeles, Calif. (Southwest Regional Barista Champ)
J. Park Brannen, Counter Culture Coffee, Brooklyn, N.Y. (Northeast Regional Barista Champ)
Laila Ghambari, Cherry Street Coffee House, Seattle, Wash. (Northwest Regional Barista Champ, United States Barista Champ)
Hidenori Izaki, Maruyama Coffee, Nagano, Japan (World Barista Champ)
Camila Ramos, Panther Coffee, Miami, Fla. (Southeast Regional Barista Champ)
Tyler Rovenstein, Quay Coffee, Kansas City, Mo. (South Central Regional Barista Champ)
Joshua Wismans, Colectivo Coffee, Milwaukee, Wisc. (North Central Regional Barista Champ)

Press:
Kenneth Olson, Barista Magazine
Alex Bernson, Sprudge

SCHEDULE

            Day 1 Sunday, July 20

  • Evening arrival in Quito, Ecuador
  • Overnight in Quito
    Day 2
    Monday, July 21
  • Visit Maputo to observe processing
  • Visit Hilda to observe processing
  • Overnight in Mindo, Ecuador
    Day 3
    Tuesday, July 22
  • Visit a dry mill
  • Explore Quieto Viejo (the oldest section of Quito)
  • Barista Jam!
  • Afternoon cupping
  • Overnight in Quito, Ecuador
    Day 4
    Wednesday, July 23
  • Visit Primavera to Observe Processing
  • Overnight in Primavera, Ecuador
    Day 5
    Thursday, July 24
  • Depart Primavera
  • Flight from Quito to Guayaquil (5:15 pm – 6:10 pm)
  • Overnight in Guayaquil, Ecuador
    Day 6
    Friday, July 25
  • Cacao Sourcing & Microlots
  • Overnight in Guayaquil, Ecuador
    Day 7
    Saturday, July 26
  • Free Day!
  • Overnight in Guayaquil, Ecuador
    Day 8
    Sunday, July 27
  • Morning departures from GYE airport

 

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen 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.