“And we (DO) care about the young folks…”

Man, even though that Peter Bjorn & John song (2007) was nearly ruined by manic radio play, it’s still a delight. And it’s what I had playing in my head in San Diego at Coffee Fest while I watched Alexandra Szep, 18, compete in the New World Latte Art Championship.

Alexandra Szep, 18, of Caffe Amadeus, placed 8th in the New World Latte Art Championship in San Diego at Coffee Fest in early June.

I have been watching Alexandra pour latte art competitively since she was just 14 years old. She’s obviously adorable, but she’s also poised, incredibly talented, and remarkably driven for someone her age. She gets better and better each time we see her at Coffee Fest, and I just know that someday, with her tenacity, she’ll win the whole thing.

Alex always comes to Coffee Fest with her mom and dad, who own Caffe Amadeus in Indiana, Pennsylvania. It’s awesome that they support her so much…

Alex and her mom, Andi, and dad, Bill, owners of Caffe Amadeus

But lots of kids who are interested in coffee preparation don’t have parents actually in the coffee business. So how are they supposed to get a leg up in the industry? I was excited to hear about a woman in Eugene, Ore., who offers a Barista Summer Camp to kids ages 14–18. The camp is designed for fun, of course—what teenager wouldn’t have fun learning how to craft great espresso drinks? But developer of the camp, Sue Harnly, who owns the Eugene Coffee Company, says she thinks the idea of teaching kids a useable skill like barista work is important for these kids’ futures.

“What I’m seeing is that high schoolers don’t have these skills yet and everybody needs, well, a place to start. This gives them a leg up, it gives them information they can use,” Harnly told KMTR TV in Eugene recently. The camp includes not only instruction on the espresso machine, but discussion of professionalism in the work environment, interview tips and resume preparation.

It’s a cool idea, I think. And hey, if the result is more talent like Alexandra Szep in the field of our best and brightest baristas, it’s nothing but a good thing for our industry as a whole.

Find out more about Harnly’s Summer Barista Institutes by watching this short video…

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.