Let's Talk Coffee – Nicaragua

The view from our room at Let's Talk Coffee. Meanwhile, the baristas at Selva Negra compete for the right to have a shower.

The view from our room at Let's Talk Coffee. Meanwhile, the baristas at Selva Negra compete for the right to have a shower.

So upon our arrival at Managua, USBC ’09 Champion, Michael Phillips and I were expecting to go up to Selva Negra to see the last day of the Seed to Cup Challenge. Instead we were whisked away on a bus with a whole load of Sustainable Harvest folks and Let’s Talk Coffee attendees to the Barcelo Hotel and Resort at Montelimar on the Pacific Coast. Tough luck, I know.

Today we’re expecting about 150 more attendees to join us. Tomorrow the rest should arrive. They will bring the total up to 320 people. Already we’ve met coffee growers from Tanzania, exporters from Rwanda, farmers from Mexico and of course Nicaragua, not to mention all of the consuming country people who are here. It’s bound to set up some interesting discussions and prove once again what a small and interconnected world we live in.

But while that’s interesting, what I really wanted to take a moment to point out is the Seed to Cup Challenge. If you have a chance you have to check out their blog and tweeter feed. Set up as a team competition sort of on the Survivor model, two teams of champion baristas have spent the last five days at Selva Negra competing in challenges that coffee farmers deal with all the time, harvesting algae for fertilizer, for example. As their reward for winning each challenge the teams get points or sometime other rewards. One time, the reward was a hot shower, another a cup of coffee made on a French press.

The teams are also picking, processing and roasting coffee. They’re going to present it here at LTC, and Michael Phillips will be judging their success. We’ll also be treated to a rough-cut screening of the documentary a camera crew is shooting of the competition. Soon after that film will be available for everyone to watch. I can’t wait.

In the meantime, that blue glow in the right of the picture above is supposedly the largest swimming pool in Central America. I’ll have to check it out, and then there’s the beach just beyond…

About the Author

Kenneth R. Olson is co-founder and publisher of Barista Magazine the worldwide trade magazine for the professional coffee community. He has written extensively about specialty coffee, traveled near and far for stories, activities, and fun, and been invited to present on topics important to coffee culture. He is also an avid fan of the Portland Trail Blazers and the Washington Huskies. Go Blazers! Go Dawgs!