Want to indulge yourself in first-rate specialty coffee for four days? Of course you do. But even better, want to do that while developing your coffee knowledge and meeting professionals from all over the world?
If you answered yes to that (and I have no doubt that you did), you need to go to a Barista Camp.
This year, for the first ever time, I went to the Barista Guild of Europe’s Barista Camp 2015 (talk about a mouthful). It was an amazing experience and I would recommend that any coffee enthusiast, whether they’re a beginning barista, coffee legend, or even an Authorised SCAE Trainer (AST), invests in tickets for next year.
1. Meet Coffee Professionals from all Over the World
I left Barista Camp 2015 having connected with coffee professionals from around the world – and I’m not just talking about the attendees, although they were a large part of it. The keynote speakers varied from the UK (such as Andrew Tolley and Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood) to Nicaragua (Rina Paguaga). There were ASTs and volunteers from all around Europe who shared their different training styles.
Spending four days with these international coffee-lovers is an enriching experience. And, it being a Barista Camp, this experience isn’t limited to cupping sessions and lectures. During breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we sat down together and spoke about all things coffee and hospitality.
Rina Paguaga gave her keynote speech on her family’s farm in Nicaragua. Credit: Barista Guild of Europe/Jordan Sanchez
2. Develop Your Coffee Expertise
When it comes to coffee, education is they key to growing your knowledge, enhancing your skills, and progressing in your career. And at Barista Camp, there’s a great balance between fun and education. You’ll learn so much from the sessions and can even work towards a Coffee Diploma.
Yet it isn’t just attendees who can learn from attending Barista Camp – it’s also a great opportunity for ASTs. As one myself, I strongly believe that volunteering as a support trainer is an excellent way for us to augment our own education.
Le Nez Du Café sensory test. Credit: Barista Guild of Europe/Jordan Sanchez
3. Learn from Your Peers
Does the idea of being surrounded by coffee experts intimidate you?
We’ve all felt that pang of self-consciousness at realising that other people know more than we do about our beautiful beans, but please leave your anxieties at the door. Barista Camp has such a friendly atmosphere that any questions, beginner or advanced, simple or complicated, are welcome. In fact, I believe it’s particularly useful for first-timers seeking a challenge.
One of the great things is how much potential there is to learn, not just from the sessions, but from all of the attendees. Questions always spark a debate because everyone has something to add. And with how international Barista Camp is, you know that you’d never normally get to hear all these perspectives.
Sensory Intermediate Course takes on triangulation. Credit: Barista Guild of Europe/Jordan Sanchez
4. Experience Great Value
Barista courses can get expensive, but I was really happy with was how much we got for our money. Not convinced? Take away how much you would normally pay for an SCAE course and remember what else is included. The hotel was beautiful, the food exceptional, and everyone left with goodies.
I think if you’re going to ask for something for Christmas or your birthday, make it a ticket to next year’s Barista Camp. You can thank your family and friends on your return by sharing all your goodies and newfound knowledge with them.
That look of concentration after the first slurp… Credit: Barista Guild of Europe/Jordan Sanchez
5. Feel Team Spirit
What’s better than experiencing Barista Camp? Experiencing it as part of a team.
Barista Camp have tapped into this and divided all attendees into groups, making sure that you’ll mix with people you otherwise might not have spoken to. Finding out if someone’s on your team or not makes for a fantastic icebreaker.
It also adds a healthy dose of team spirit to the event. There are constant team challenges – and they don’t all revolve around coffee. At one point, we were all hunting for a flag on the beach in the dark. The result? Lots of laughter, involvement, and bonding. There’s nothing better for getting to know a stranger than working together to win a game (especially when you then enjoy a coffee together afterwards).
Credit: Barista Guild of Europe/Jordan Sanchez
Barista Camp isn’t just about coffee, and that’s why it’s such a positive movement. It really emphasises networking and education, both of which our community needs. And the crema on top of the coffee is that it does this in such a fun, welcoming way that you feel like you can ask anything. After all, we are there to learn, right!?
Did you go to Europe’s Barista Camp 2015? Are you planning to go to a Barista Camp? What are your experiences of barista events? Let us know your stories in the comments, on facebook, or on instagram.
Feature Photo Credit: Jordan Sanchez.
Perfect Daily Grind.