LTCBC!

That means “Let’s Talk Coffee Barista Championship”—holla! We just wrapped up the 1st annual LTCBC, with 6 sets of barista teams preparing 4 espressos and 4 cappuccinos with latte art for each of 4 sets of 2-person judges. It was so much fun! Here’s the winning team:

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And here’s the scoreboard… you can see it was pretty close between some of the teams!

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But we need to back up because a lot has happened since I last blogged. Yesterday afternoon was the beginning of 2 long and interesting sessions on the craft of the barista and espresso preparation, given by Mr. Stephen Morrissey, WBC Champion. It’s so great that Stephen is here — everyone’s really excited to see him, have him sign their copies of Barista Magazine, and ask him questions such as, How can I win the WBC?

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Here (above) is Stephen with Olga of Sustainable Harvest. Olga organized much of the Let’s Talk Coffee event and is simply awesome. Before the session on latte art and espresso began yesterday afternoon, people enjoyed espresso on the patio. Here is Blanca, the current Colombian Barista Champion chatting with Menno as she pulls him a shot.

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During yesterday’s session, Luis was on hand to help with translation and details on Stephen’s discussion. Notice another Stephen in this photo: Stephen Vick of Sustainable Harvest.

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The training was a big success, and all the baristas and growers and roasters who attended it were eager for the hands-on portion, which took place today. But first, we had a big evening of fun to get started on! I went back to the room to change and noticed this spectacular sunset from Phuong’s and my balcony:

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After dinner, we were treated to a performance by a local dance troupe that specializes in traditional Colombian dance. They were so incredible!

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And then we stayed up late drinking rum and talking… it was great, but there are a number of us who were a wee bit tired this morning. A great way to start the day is by making friends with a goat. At least, that’s what Chris Baca says.

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I’ll talk more in an article about the awesome lecture by Marc from Sustainable Harvest on coffee producing in East Africa that took place this morning. Everyone was floored by it, and very moved. I want to give a shout out t the translation dudes who have been translating Spanish to English and English to Spanish all weekend long — they’ve been so great!

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This afternoon, lots was going on, including grower-roaster meetings like this one:

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In the meetings, no topic is off limits. Growers can tell roasters what’s working and what’s not, and vice versa. If a farm needs to charge a higher price, or a roaster wants the grower to be more focused on a certain kind of picking or processing, they can talk about it here. Below is a photo of Lindsay from Green Mountain meeting with some producers from Tanzania.

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Meanwhile, the barista training was in full swing. And it was fun from the get-go.

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The participants were from all different backgrounds — there were baristas from Colombia who wanted to learn from the World Champ, and there were roasters who wanted to understand how espresso works, and there were growers who wanted to try their hand at espresso preparation.

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There were three espresso machines set up, and Phuong, Baca and Morrissey were each posted at one. Each had a group to train in learning stuff like underextraction and overextraction, and other what-not-to-dos, and then show them the steps to making a good shot. Then the participants got to hop onto the machines themselves to try it out.

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Phuong told me later how much she loved the experience because all the participants were so enthusiastic and passionate about learning. Here she is with her group from this afternoon.

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Sam for Chris — he’s been loving the experience of meeting and sharing ideas with other coffee people (we have people from 20 countries here!). And the participants in today’s workshop adored Chris — he’s such a great trainer.

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So now we’re all caught up! LTCBC was in full effect! And a big, loud and excited crowd of coffee people gathered to watch the competition. Below, judges Phuong and Genna pose for a photo, and David Griswold addresses the crowd about the importance of understanding espresso.

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Tonight we have something that should be really freakin cool called Sevan’s Grill. Sevan, from Mystique in Montreal, hosts this meal every year, where he grills a goat and serves amazing liquors — free flowing Zacapa, anyone? Tomorrow we’ll head out to visit some farms and also visit the National Coffee Museum, so I’ll be blogging about that when we get back. To close for now, here’s a shot of the beautiful night sky here in Armenia, Colombia.

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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.