Every year the coffee industry in Colombia has a coffee fair that gathers together everyone involved in the coffee industry – coffee growers, exporters and distributors, coffee shop owners and baristas. From around the world coffee importers come looking for the next specialty coffee to take back home with them.
The most exciting moment of the fair is the national barista championships, where the top baristas around the country compete to see who will be the king for the following year.
This year we watched Mauricio Romero, the current national barista champion, presenting before the judges. Although he didn’t win this year’s competition, we are looking forward to drinking his coffee at his cafe, Top 5, which he’ll open November 1.
We were mesmerized by the presentation that Giovanni Largo from Juan Valdez made, a complicated contraption that played with temperatures and defied gravity.
And this coffee presentation was literally smoking…
This fair is a chance to hobnob with specialty coffee industry giants like Jaime Duque from Catación Publica, Luis Velez from Amor Perfecto, and Manuel Barbosa from Azahar coffee.
And even the littlest participants can join their barista parents.
A special treat is meeting the coffee farmers. During a break between competitors, this gentleman from Caldas addressed me from across the championship arena. His pride at being a Colombian coffee grower was evident in his words and actions as he took his hat off to a foreign journalist and presented me with a bag of 100% Colombian coffee.
Which I appreciated, as you can see by my grin.
We all watched, breathless, as the baristas made their presentations, and we cheered them on through high points and low points. At the end of the evening we got the results we were waiting for. The new Barista Champion for 2016: Diego Campos from Amor Perfecto.