Imagine you’re a barista in Russia. Most of you can’t, can you? It’s an enormous yet isolated land, and the chances of most Russian baristas visiting a coffee-producing country are extremely slim. In fact, the chances of them even meeting another barista who has been to origin are small. So imagine how exciting it would be to meet a barista who not only has visited coffee farms, but actually lives in a coffee-producing country?
OK, now imagine that person is a World Barista Champion. Mind blown.
That’s exactly what happened today in Red Square in Moscow, when 2011 WBC Champion Alejandro Mendez, along with William Hernandez—who is not only Alejandro’s coworker at Viva Espresso in El Salvador, but a national champion in his own right, and third place finisher at the 2013 WBC—led a group of 30 Russian baristas through a discussion of varietals and processing methods. Using beautiful and descriptive photos from El Salvadoran farms, mills, and patios, Alejandro and William gave a very thoughtful and thorough depiction of different varietals and processing methods.
Theirs was one of the nine daily educational sessions held during the Spasskaya Tower Festival, during which Soyuz Coffee Roasting hosts a party tent with three Nuova Simonelli espresso stations, champion baristas, a slow bar, and pounding music for nine days in September.
Though Soyuz has hosted this coffee component for three years now, this is the first year the activities have been supplemented with educational sessions for Russian baristas. The addition couldn’t have been more successful, and Soyuz staffers plan to expand on it in years to come.
My five days here in Moscow draw to a close tonight as I fly back stateside early Saturday morning. I’m so sad to say goodbye to my dear friends from Soyuz—Regina, Drago, Alla, Alexey—and the barista champions—Stefanos, Christos, Pete, Asli, Francesco, William, Alejandro, Javier, and Victor—who have become like family.
Keep your eye out for the October+November issue, where you’ll get a whole new perspective into an aspect of Russian specialty coffee—and thanks for reading my posts this week!