Starbucks invited 23 barista champions to Bogota, Colombia, for the second annual Latin America and Caribbean Barista Championship Experience. The week-long event celebrated the champions while inspiring and equipping them to be leaders in coffee craft and customer connections at their stores. Participants engaged in activities that ranged from a trip to a small coffee farm and perfecting barista skills to a latte art competition.
“It was so rewarding to see baristas from different countries and cultures join together to learn about coffee,” said Samady Medina, Starbucks continuous improvement advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Coffee is something special they all have in common.They began their journey in Bogota as strangers and went home as friends and family.”
“We were excited to bring the barista champions in Latin America and the Caribbean together for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. They were eager to learn and grateful for the opportunity to explore coffee in Colombia," added Chad Moore, Starbucks global coffee and tea education manager.
The event kicked off with a coffee tasting led by the 2015 Colombian Barista Champion Cristian Zarate (pictured above) who encouraged this year’s champions to relish their new roles. "Being a barista champion is an honor, but also a responsibility,” Zarate said. “The best way to show that you love what you do is to inspire and share your knowledge with others.”
Following Zarate's tasting, the group took a virtual tour of Starbucks first store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
Beverage Quality and Craft
The champions also toured a small coffee farm in Pacho, Colombia, and gained a greater appreciation for the time and care taken to grow and process coffee. “Visiting the farm was one of the best experiences of my life," said Roberto Serratos, a barista champion from Mexico. “I was able to fulfill a life-long dream.”
As designated experts in beverage quality, the champions mastered the Mastrena espresso machine during the barista championship event. They took turns crafting espresso shots, practiced steaming milk to create the perfect microfoam, and learned about the importance of equipment maintenance.
“I could see the 'a-ha' moment on their faces, realizing they are responsible for upholding the quality of the beverage by maintaining the machine and crafting every beverage with the same care and pride as farmers take to produce the coffee,” Moore said.
One of the event highlights was a Latte Art “Throwdown.” The winner of the competition, Sophia Moron, barista champion from Peru, was surprised by her victory. “I couldn’t believe it. I felt so honored,” she said. “My country really supported me during the event, and I felt really thankful.”
The experience wrapped up with the champions developing plans to lead and inspire barista craft in their markets.
"This trip has been an amazing experience from the beginning to this very moment. It is an honor and a privilege for me to share this time and space with enthusiastic people who share my same passion. I was able to learn from all of you, and you have become my new friends. I just want to encourage you to do things in the best way possible," said Joshua Rolle, barista champion from the Bahamas. "Thanks for the positive impact you've made in my life."