On the 5th of this month, 150 baristas from 25 different countries met in Greece for the first ever Barista Camp of Europe. Our reporter Giulia Mulè was there to attend the event. You can read her overview of the experience here.
I landed in Athens on a Sunday morning with three hours of sleep and without knowing exactly what to expect from the Barista Summer Camp 2014. As the first event of this kind outside US, nobody probably had a clear idea of what it was going to be like. Yet 150 people believed that the newly formed Barista Guild of Europe (BGE) would put on a great show and so signed up for a chance to be there.
The campers were a melting pot of two hundred people coming from very different countries such as Great Britain, Iceland, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Hungary, Portuga, and as far as US and Vietnam! For a lot of them, this was their first coffee event surrounded by people that shared their same passion. “You don’t normally get to meet so many people obsessed about the same thing,” said Leo de Winter, a barista from Rotterdam.
I came back from Greece with five hundred photos, two hundred friends, ten mosquito bites and one cupping spoon. Here are some of the other highlights of #BaristaCampEU:
1. The location.
The Barista Camp took place at Eden Beach resort one hour north of Athens. Although there was little time to spend on the beach, with all the classes, lectures and social activities planned for the 4-day camp, the resort provided a great setting to chill (or study for the exam).
2. The passion for coffee and eagerness to learn more.
It wasn’t just coffee novices who attended the barista camp classes. Among the participants there were baristas and roasters who have been working in the industry for many years or have won at national and international coffee competitions. Stavros Lamprinidis, 2014 World Ibrik Champion, said to me one evening: “Even with 41 years of experience and a world title I still think there is more for me to learn about coffee”.
3. The #BaristaCampSwag
All participants to the barista camp were welcomed with a bag full of goodies offered by the prestigious sponsors. One of the favourite gifts? A customised Reg Barber Tamper!
4. Barista Camp Keynote: MadCap Coffee founder Trevor Corlett
Corlett spoke of his experience organising Barista Camp US for four successful years and shared with us the highs and lows of running these events. He also recalled a few episodes from the US camps, like the time the power generator broke down in the middle of practice with the espresso machines or the time a team leader was seen wearing nothing but a toga…
5. Trainer Paul Meikle-Janney wearing a toga and tasting beers in cupping bowls
On the first day of camp we were divided into 16 teams of 10 people each and were led around the resort to compete in a series of challenges: blind cupping, Greek dance-off, beach volleyball matches, blind-folded latte art and beer tasting. This last challenge was about delivering a funny flavour presentation and it literally left judges Patrick O’Malley, Jon Willasen and Denise Hall in tears of laughter. The five funniest performers were called back and asked to re-deliver their show in front of everyone.
6. Blind-folded latte art challenge.
It requires a very good muscle memory to be able to prepare an espresso and then draw a heart or rosetta with your eyes shut. Well done to Team 4 for winning the challenge!
7. Late-night Ibrik Coffee Making
On the last night of Barista Camp, while most of the students were studying for their exams, Ibrik world champion Stavros Lamprinidis prepared coffee for a few lucky ones who were still awake (much to the entertainment of the hotel staff who gathered around and participated in the coffee tasting). Graciano Cruz joined us for this impromptu session and even provided some of his farm’s Geisha Natural coffee beans. Quoting Graciano, it was “like jammin’ coffee”!
8. Beach party
On the second night of camp we all gathered at the beach bar for a memorable party sponsored by Jägermeister. Fueled up by shots of liquor and Jagerito cocktails, we danced into the early hours and then cooled down with a dip in the crystal clear water.
9. Scott Rao sharing his knowledge about roasting
Barista Camp offered a rare opportunity to hear “The Coffee Roaster’s Companion” author talk in Europe. Scott was at Barista Summer Camp for a lecture on ‘The Commandments of Roasting” which was followed by the last group cupping of the camp.
10. The gear
11. Acaia scales everywhere
The sleek and precise scale, which comes with a heat insulation pad and works with its own coffee brewing app, was what everyone at camp was lusting after.
12. “Sirtaki” photos
Despite the not-so-memorable Greek dancing performances showcased during the team challenges, the participants in Barista Summer Camp didn’t give up on dancing. Or at least pretending to, during group photos!
What’s the best way to commemorate making new friends at a summer camp? Taking selfies with your teachers, like this one with trainer Tim Sturk.
14. How did I get here?
On the 3rd day of camp James Hoffmann led a panel on career options in coffee, with wisdom quotes from Patrick O’Malley: “The people kept me in the coffee industry for 29 years. At one point I got out of coffee, but after one year I got sucked back into it again. And it’s going to happen to all of you”; Trevor Corlett: “I fell in love with coffee culture, not with coffee”; and Sonja Grant: “The best way for baristas to grow is to visit the farms and learn about all the phases of coffee production”.
15. Volunteers and trainers
Twenty coffee industry representatives from all over Europe volunteered at camp to share their knowledge and help the BGE members. Their desire to contribute to the European coffee community represented the soul of the Barista Summer Camp 2014.
Giulia Mule is a Sprudge.com contributor based in London. Read more Giulia Mule on Sprudge.
All photos by Giulia Mule exclusively for Sprudge.com