August 6, 2015

Expos and SCAE Training: The Spread of Specialty Coffee in Argentina


In Argentina, we define ourselves by coffee. Sitting at a street-side table with a newspaper and a cortado (small black coffee with a splash of milk) is part of our daily routine and, in fact, a study recently showed that 60% of us consider meeting friends or colleagues for a cup of coffee to be “Argentine”. Our traditional cafés, such as Café Tortoni (favoured by Jorge Luis Borges) are famous. Yet our coffee culture is divided. On the one hand, a tradition of valuing quantity over quality combined with our historically unsteady economy has led to a prevalence of low-quality, low-cost coffees. Yet at the same time, expos and local cafés are driving a growing interest in third wave coffee.

SEE ALSO: Evolution of Thai Coffee Culture: Traditional vs Specialty

Customers meeting up over a cup of coffee at All Saints Café

Customers meeting up over a cup of coffee at All Saints Café

Local Cafés Introducing Specialty Coffee

“We have espresso, macchiatos, lattes, flat whites—”

“Flat, er, what?”

Introducing specialty coffee to customers who have never even heard of it has its challenges. However, a growing number of people are open to trying new products—and discovering that they like them.

Flat whites at All Saints Café

Flat whites at All Saints Café

All Saints Cafe hosts free cuppings and also has a Training Lab, where new baristas and coffee enthusiasts can learn about everything from extraction methods to service models. It’s a win-win situation; All Saints Cafe gets publicity and a new set of customers eager for specialty coffee. As coffee shops in Argentina continue to inform customers of the coffee available, we hope interest in third wave coffee will grow even further.

One of the extractors used at the All Saints Café brew bar

One of the extractors used at the All Saints Café brew bar

Buenos Aires Specialty Coffee Expo, Exigí Buen Café

It’s not just the cafés that are ushering specialty coffee in to our Argentinian coffee culture; we also have an annual specialty coffee expo in Buenos Aires: Exigí Buen Café. It raises awareness of the variety of coffee (and coffee quality!) available, the role of qualified barista professionals, and the companies dedicated to quality coffee—and even hosts a barista contest. The increasing number of competitors and companies participating each year shows how successful the expo has been in raising awareness of specialty coffee.

Barista Courses: SCAE Barista Skills

In June 2015, Buenos Aires’ first SCAE Barista Skills courses were held. Hosted by a partnership of SCAE, All Saints Café, and Italian company Nuova Simonelli, the event was a great success. The modules were offered at Intermediate and Professional levels over the course of three days and over 20 baristas took part, gaining internationally recognised certification.

The specialty coffee world in Argentina is growing. Expos, training modules, and an increasing number of third wave coffee shops suggest that the days of poor-quality coffee may slowly be fading away.

Perfect Daily Grind.