This post is far too late and I almost didn’t get written, but as it was in my head, I could not afford to leave it in just “in my head”. Although I really had nothing to special to say about it or anything witty to describe what was the first SPECIALTY COFFEE FESTIVAL in Spain however I had to give as much exposure to this magnificent event that comes to show that there is a promising future for specialty coffees in Spain.
It really was complicated for me to attend but there was no way I could miss a historic event like this, I will tell my grandchildren that I attended the first festival of its kind in Spain, seriously. I know there have been events and championships before but officially it was the first Festival of Specialty Coffees, and it has achieved to integrate the national SCAE events that are held around the world.
The event held three national championships, qualifiers for the World Championships in Melbourne and Rimini.
Competitions that took place were the NATIONAL BARISTA CHAMPIONSHIP, the NATIONAL LATTE ART CHAMPIONSHIP and the NATIONAL CUPTASTER CHAMPIONSHIP (Coffee tasting), the latter was the one I took the plunge into and decided to participate in, first, to test myself and to put extra pressure on myself by having to measured against other opponents. Then also, secondly, to have fun. I discovered the extreme difficulty of choosing the odd cup out of eight different sets of three cups, because honestly, practicing at home with coffee that I already knew is not comparable … however much my wife helped out by preparing my cups and mixing them up at home for me, hehe, thanks honey! and then you must take in account the nerves of the competition.
Finally, after measuring my abilities against Q Graders (Coffee sommeliers, so you understand), a real sommelier (yes, the wine one!), SCAE judges and generally very experienced people with many competitions behind their backs (and some other newbie like me!), I am very proud of my role with five correct out of eight, where I did not pass to the next round only because of the time I took, not because of the number of mistakes … yeah, right, time is another factor.
But besides seeing where my level was at compared to others, what I gained from the experience was getting to surround myself with many other coffee people that have an interest in quality coffee, proving that it’s a world that engages open minded people who like to dig deeper into matters to find the excellence in things … nice people, so to speak.
In the Barista and Latte Art championships there was a very high level with very young baristas back to back along with more experienced professionals. Being the first time I was at an event of this kind (although I had seen many competitions online from previous World Coffee Events), I was surprised to actually feel the barista’s true nervousness, excitement and great passion for what they do. I’ve really only sensed this by watching them perform live.
THE WINNERS OF EACH COMPETITION WERE:
– Barista: Javier Garcia, a veteran who has won with this 4 national championships, he is part of the Right Side Coffee Roasters team.
– Latte Art: Hector Hernandez from Cafés El Criollo came first with very interesting patterns and a very steady hand, the importance of having talent has to match with nerves of steel in this tricky event.
– Cuptasters: Both the Baqué sisters from Cafés Dromedario, Begoña and Marisa, swept away all the other competitors ending first and second respectively in the cuptasters event, it’s noteworthy that they were the only two women who were signed up in this competition. Good luck to all of them in the World Championships!
To end this post, my final thought goes to how much I enjoyed seeing on several occasions, confused people (some more than others) who came inside the exhibition building, where the festival took place, obviously not knowing anything about specialty coffees and that I personally saw the expressions on their faces as they were pleasantly surprised by what they tasted or what was happening inside that venue… I was very happy to have the comforting idea that the only real barrier for specialty coffee is unawareness.
Randall Coffee Roasters