Crafted by: Brandon Bir
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other” – JFK
The pursuit to learn more about what we do, and what others are doing, led me to the Barista Guild’s Barista Camp in Palm Springs, California this past week. This yearly event is held for coffee professionals that want to talk in a universal way. It was established as a way for professionals to get together and learn about the different things baristas were doing in their shops. With the addition of the level 1 and 2 certifications, Barista Camp has morphed into a mix of classes, tests, and conversations. The focus is on a universal language all baristas can speak and teach.
The classes and tests focused on the fundamentals of proper espresso preparation and milk expansion. This is meant to help everyone in the industry understand the expectations of coffee professionals around the world. Several of the teachers have competed in barista competitions, which gave the students a great perspective as to what judges are looking for. Not everyone in the group had aspirations of competing, though the “official” manner of the teachers really gave us all a sense of importance in what we were doing.
The evenings were filled with panel talks, speeches, and round table discussions. The topics ranged from customer service to great drink making to running an efficient shop. The best part of all of this was the sharing. Everyone in attendance opened up and shared experiences, successes, and failures. The goal was to help each other. Some of us were able to share more than other, though some of the best stories came from the some of the newest baristas. This exercise of sharing taught us the usefulness of communication and possibilities unbolted by open forums and effective communiqué.