The first ever Barista Camp of Europe was held this month in Greece, and deemed a tremendous success by all participants. The 4-day event was put together by the newly formed Barista Guild of Europe, a working committee of coffee professionals based all over Europe.
Spearheaded by Yannis Apostolopoulos and Cosimo Libardo of the SCAE and chaired by James Hoffmann, a World Barista Champion and co-owner of Square Mile Coffee, the Barista Guild of Europe was born in March of this year in Frankfurt. That’s when Hoffmann, Isa Verschraegen, Dale Harris, Kalle Freese and Andrew Tolley met together for the first time to discuss the structure and objectives of the guild—the first of which was to organise a European Barista Camp in Greece in October. Fast forward seven months, and James Hoffmann was standing in front of 150 baristas, 20 volunteers and 15 trainers/speakers to officially launch the camp.
I spent four days spent at this camp, and observed a whirlwind of emotions, hard work, lessons learned and friendships born. The event was conceived to offer baristas around Europe the chance for professional and—most importantly—community development, and this will remain the focus of BGE over the next twelve months: providing events and opportunities to come together either in person or through an online forum.
Most of the participants of Barista Camp already work in the coffee industry but want to learn more about specialty coffee in order to offer a better service to their customers. One barista from Serbia attended the classes “to learn more about brewing and tasting and grow filter coffee consumption” in his country; Franciska Apró of Espresso Embassy in Hungary wants “to learn how to make the best coffee” for her customers; Joe Halas from the University of Warwick coffee shop in the UK wanted “to learn more about specialty coffee to better manage his coffee shop.” And a lot of them just wanted to be part of the event and witness the beginning of a European coffee community. The entry price started at 400€ for a suite of classes, a Coffee Diploma and full board accommodation.
The camp also featured a series of lectures, starting with a keynote by Trevor Corlett, co-owner of Madcap Coffee and past chair of the Barista Guild of America. Other lecturers present at the camp were the progressive coffee farmer Graciano Cruz, roaster and author Scott Rao, Pascale Schuit, the Sustainable Relationship Manager at Union Hand-Roasted Coffee and Mauricio Galindo, Head of Operations at the International Coffee Organization.
The event's team of lecturers and teachers offered useful insights into the different aspects of the industry, from farming and roasting to the economic and environmental aspects of coffee production. It wasn’t all just about the theory though: Barista Camp organized tasting sessions, brewing and barista demonstrations, and one-to-one practical training for students eager to perfect their skills. There were also plenty of social activities (fun team challenges and a memorable beach party) that helped baristas relax after class and get to know one another.
Over the next 12 months, BGE aims at increasing the size of the working committee, developing by-laws and resources for the community, building membership system, running social events, developing an online forum and of course organizing Barista Camp 2015.
The lessons learned inside and outside of class will shape the way the European coffee industry grows in the future. Barista Summer Camp 2014 was unique and its spirit and atmosphere will be challenging to replicate—but as the community grows, the success of events like these will surely follow.
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