In the December+January 2014 issue of Barista Magazine, we featured an article on an inspiring effort being made by Spanish coffee company Cafento, the Down Barista Championship, which is a competition for baristas with Down syndrome. You readers were so excited to learn about this special competition taking place in several regions in Spain, and I promised I would keep you informed about all similar efforts in the future.
In 2014, Cafento will organize four different barista competitions for people with Down syndrome, beginning today—which is World Down Syndrome Day—with a contest taking place in Andalucía, Spain.
The other three competitions will take place in Asturias, Galicia, and Valencia, with a total of 50 participants.
“We think Down Barista Championships have two main beneficial effects,” says Tiago Lemos, Cafento‘s Marketing Director. “They help to make Down syndrome people socially visible, showing them as guys perfectly able to make a good job. And we can train them as baristas, which is a promising profession in terms of job opportunities.”
Cafento, one of the largest coffee companies in Spain, collaborates with several Down syndrome organizations that are part of the Down Syndrome Spanish Federation. The competitions are conducted almost exactly as the traditional barista championships, with a few adaptations, the most important of which is that competitors participate as a team of four to six people.
For the competition taking place today, the barista competitors have been practicing with trainers since Monday. “Many experienced coffee shop owners and restaurant workers are not able to do some of the things these guys have learned to do during the training week,” says Víctor Couto, a Cafento coach at the II Galician Down Barista Championship. “They are developing true barista skills.”