Colombia Day 2 and part of 3

I am in love with Colombia, and the Colombian mosquitoes are in love with me. Seriously, I haven’t had this many bug bites since summercamp. But it’s a small price to pay to be here among an incredible mix of coffee producers, roasters and baristas, here in Armenia, Colombia, at Let’s Talk Coffee.

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It ain’t your typical convention, that’s for sure. This whole event is about bringing people from around the world together to discuss what works and what doesn’t, and brainstorm about how to improve overall coffee quality through both traditional and unconventional methods. Which is part of the reason baristas are involved this year for the first time in Let’s Talk Coffee — not that involving the barista in any discussion of coffee communication is unconventional, but this is one of those rare (though to my elight, becoming less rare) opportunities where people from every single link on the coffee chain are actually in the same place, eating meals together, laughing together, and thinking together.

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The schedule is packed with amazing speakers and activities, so I have to keep this breif, but I wanted to share a bunch of photos from yesterday and this morning before I head in to lunch and the next session.

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Here is Morten from Solberg & Hansen ready to begin the all-day session on telling the story of coffee held yesterday with Professional Storyteller, Joel ben Izzy.

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Joel begins by telling us a traditional story from Armenia. He’s really awesome.

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Phil, roaster for Dillanos, shares a story with the group on one f his company’s relationship farms.

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Jay, Chris and Phuong shared their stories of being baristas and the responsibility they feel and honor as the ones who tell the growers’ stories to their customers.

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After the workshop, Jay, Phuong, Chris, and I walked over the the animal farm that is adjacent to the hotel. It’s called Panaca. To get there, we walked across a breathtaking suspension bridge.

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This is the view from the bridge at sunset. If it’s a little fuzzy, that’s because I was kinda terrified about how high up the bridge was and also how shaky it was.

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Here is a sassy, adorable miniature horse at Panaca.

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Back at the hotel, we gathered for the official welcome speech from Sustainable Harvest, and it was so terrific to see old friends like Larry from Batdorf & Bronson. Larry and I were on my very first origin trip, in Guatemala, a few years ago, so I feel a real connection with him.

Most everyone hung out by the pool til 11 or so last night having drinks (complementary, yo!) and chatting. Then we crashed.

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This morning, we gathered in the conference room for a discussion of what Relationship Coffee is and why it’s important.

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On my way back to Phuong’s and my room, I snapped this picture of the lobby so you can see 1) how tropical and lovely it is, and 2) that there are donkeys in pens in the lobby.

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Here are Libby (Sustainable Harvest), James (Dalla Corte) and Tracy (Brewed Behavior) hanging out before the coffee break with… World Barista Champion Stephen Morrissey, fresh off a plane from Ireland!

I introduced Stephen to the group of 250 or so producers and roasters, emphasizing the importance of the barista in the seed-to-cup chain, noting that baristas crave knowledge of where the coffee they serves comes from, and they are often incredible catalysts for communicating the real, tangible story of source to customers. I also told them how these days, no one becomes a barista champion without not only intensely intimate knowledge of their coffee’s origin and processing method, but a passion for understanding it.

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Much more to come, so stay tuned!

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.