8 min

Barista and Farmer, Off to a Good Start – ten of the best baristas in the world compete in coffee competitions on land confiscated from drug traffickers

07-05-2018 • Events

The 4th edition of the only international talent event dedicated to top-quality coffee will take place from 1 to 10 June in Colombia, created by the Italian barista champion Francesco Sanapo in collaboration with Italian Exhibition Group, Sigep and under the patronage of the SCA - Speciality Coffee Association. Main Sponsor Lavazza


The ten finalists, chosen from among 250 professionals, will live like farmers on Colombian coffee plantations in the departments of Meta and Huila. Among this year’s new features, the competitors will engage in sideline activities such as dancing, sports, painting and local cuisine.



Rimini, 3 May 2018 - Finca La Cabaña in San Augustin, Finca el Paraiso in Vereda Cristo Rey, Finca Bellavista, Finca Santana el Bolson and Finca el Mirador, the last three in the municipality of Pitalito: from 1 to 10 June, the fourth edition of Barista Farmer, the only international talent event dedicated to the promotion and culture of top-quality coffee, will take place here in southern Colombia, on plantations that the government confiscated from cocaine producers & and donated to small farmers, who are now producing excellent coffee


Ten of the world’s best baristas will fly to Colombia, to coffee plantations in the departments of Meta and Huila, to enjoy an experience as real "“farmers”" and coffee pickers, including hands-on competitions and theoretical lessons at the special Barista Academy. Here, they will learn the latest production techniques and, for the first time, create a truly personalised blend. Among the new features of the 2018 edition are various activities dedicated to the discovery of Colombian culture through traditional dance, painting and sports lessons, as well as cooking competitions and guided tours.


Barista & Farmer was conceived by Francesco Sanapo, several-times award-winning champion barista, in collaboration with Italian Exhibition Group and SIGEP - International Exhibition of Artisanal Gelato, Pastry, Bakery and Coffee, under the patronage of the SCA - Speciality Coffee Association, with institutional partners IILA - Italian-Latin American Institute, SENA - Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (National Learning Service), Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia and Gobernación del Huila, in partnership with World Coffee Events, Lavazza with the iTierra! project and the support of La Cimbali, Faema, Mumac Academy, Urnex, Genovese Coffee; golden media partners Barista Magazine and Bargiornale; media partner Bean Scene, Cafè Olé, News, Coffee T&I, Coffee Talk, Crema, Espresso Magazine, European Coffee Trip, Roast Magazine.


Among the key words of the new edition are training, competition, research, culture, and quality, to which the value of sustainability must be added: Barista & Farmer aims not only to train true ambassadors of "specialty" coffee (of particularly high quality), but also to be a cultural bridge between Colombia, the world's third largest coffee producer, and Italy. It also aims, through the active involvement of institutional partners, to strengthen links between countries of origin and the entire coffee chain.


The lucky finalists, selected among more than 250 professionals by a panel of judges made up of trade professionals, are: Sara Ricci, 28, Italian, from Pozzuoli; Diego Campos, 27, from Colombia; Iuliia Dziadevych, 25, from the Ukraine; Matija Matijaško, 26, from Croatia; Daniel Munari, 32, from Brazil; Victoria Rovenskaya, 26, from Russia; Vala Stefansdottir, 30, from Iceland; David Lau -Cong Yuan, 23, from China; Rie Hasuda Moore, 36, from Japan; Glenn Bailey, 34, from Australia.


The 10 competitors will have the chance to discover the entire coffee processing cycle, from the bean to the cup, through the use of different technologies, right up to the tasting experience and various consumption opportunities.


"Common characteristics of the chosen plantations are the excellence and quality of the coffee they produce, together with the great passion of the producers who work in full respect of the farmers and their families, the protection of the surrounding area and the environment, the organisers say.


The baristas will enjoy a comprehensive experience in the world of coffee; waking up at dawn to spend the morning in the "finca" (plantation) harvesting the beans, weighing them, using the "de-pulping machine" and roasting. These activities will be accompanied by lessons at the Barista & Farmer Academy, under the direction of expert Alberto Polojac, and led by numerous teachers with international cultural profiles, such as the judges of the World Coffee Events Sonja Grant and Scott Conary, the president of Barista & Farmer Rebecca Atienza, former hostess of the first edition of the talent event in Puerto Rico, and the Australian roasting champion, Ben Toovey. Starting with the training modules of the SCA Coffee Skills Program, topics such as agronomy, botany, raw coffee, roasting, and extraction methods will also be addressed. For the participants, it will be a real "marathon" in which different methods borrowed for the first time from the world of beer and wine will be proposed as alternatives to the classic preparation of natural coffee, washed and honey processed: for example through fermentation with yeasts or aromatisation with different herbs, until double fermentation is achieved. The final goal will be to create one's own personalised coffee.


Besides work and study, the competitors will also have fun and recreation, with dinners and dances on the plantation, games, theme competitions and itineraries, all dedicated to the discovery of traditions and local beauty.


For the entire duration of the talent event, a number of Meta producers will follow the operations. In Meta, one of Colombia's 32 largest coffee producing departments, the Lavazza Foundation is active with sustainability projects aimed at the community of farmers and their families.


Lavazza supports Barista & Farmer with the global ¡Tierra! project. Through the Giuseppe and Pericle Lavazza Foundation NGO, this project has involved the communities of the Municipality of Mesetas in the department of Meta, a coffee region with a high vocation, located at the foot of the Eastern Cordillera, where coffee cultivation has not been practiced for a long time because of the armed conflict. With the end of the FARC conflict, since 2013 families of farmers have received land previously used for illegal crops from the government, with the aim of making plantations flourish.


"Michele Cannone, Head of Food Service Marketing at Lavazza", says that the Lavazza Foundation project, developed in collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance NGO,"has helped over one hundred Colombian farming families to restore coffee plantations after the guerrilla period, creating sustainable working conditions and improving coffee quality and plantation productivity through sustainable cultivation standards.


In just a short time, it has been possible to produce top-quality coffee for the Lavazza ¡Tierra! Colombia product, which comes from 100% sustainable agriculture certified by Rainforest Alliance, an international organisation that promotes the adoption of more sustainable agricultural practices for the protection of the environment and which ensures farmers have decent living conditions. ¡Tierra! Colombia rides the current trends in the world of coffee: sustainability, attention to origin and to the preparation of products.





Competitors will arrive in Bogotá, from where they will fly to Pitalito: it is here, in the Barista House of SENA Parque, that the participants will stay for the entire duration of the program. On Friday 1 June the talent event will start with an opening ceremony with the participation of the local authorities. Afterwards, the participants will be transferred to Finca la Cabaña, where the first plantation competitions will be staged, with afternoon lessons in the Barista Academy. During the first lesson, the baristas will discover the point of view of the producing countries through the testimonies of local experts, who will address issues such as the difficulties and innovations for a Farm 2.0 and the climatic and environmental challenges, illustrating the botanical varieties of Colombian coffee. In the evening, the competitors will try their hand at one of the new features of this edition with lessons of Sanjunaero, the traditional Colombian dance.


On Saturday 2 June, they will transfer to Finca Bellavista to spend the morning working on the plantation. In the afternoon during the Academy, the baristas will be engaged in espresso classes held by Mumac Academy and Cimbali and lessons on cleaning and maintenance by Urnex. The day will end with lessons of Chivas, the local painting style.


On Sunday, 3 June, they will rest from work in the finca. The whole day will be dedicated to visiting the Archaeological Park of San Augustin, a famous example of pre-Columbian architecture surrounded by coffee plantations, with plenty of horse riding. On Monday, 4 June, the destination will be Finca Santa Ana, with harvesting and weighing competitions in the morning. The afternoon Academy lesson will be dedicated to roasting with an intermediate level course, both theoretical and hands-on, under the guidance of the Australian roasting champion, Ben Toovey (of Genovese Coffee). From 9 pm, evening dancing with Sanjunaero lessons.


On Tuesday, 5 June, they will transfer to Finca Paraiso for the usual coffee harvesting. In the afternoon, they will attend a lesson held by Alberto Polojac on the sensory world of coffee: how to approach a tasting, what the right terminology is, what the evaluation criteria are.


On Wednesday 6 June, after the harvesting and weighing competitions at Finca El Mirador, the day continues with Barista Academy lessons on coffee processing methods, from washed to natural, to discover many different and innovative methods and understand how they affect the flavour of the coffee in the cup.


In the afternoon they will shop for local products at the central market of Pitalito, followed by a cooking competition. During the day, the competitors can try Tejo (also known as Turmeque), a Colombian national sport of indigenous origin which consists in hitting a target containing gunpowder with a metal disc, throwing it from a distance of 20 m.


On Thursday, 7 June, the baristas will attend an ad hoc session on Meta sustainability projects and a cupping of coffees from this area and from Lavazza projects; also on this date and again on 8 June, the SCA - Speciality Coffee Association exams will be held, which will enable the baristas to obtain the "“Intermediate Roasting”" diploma. After the exams, they will return by plane to Bogota; and the following day they will visit the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros and tour the cafes of Bogotá.


The adventure will end on 10 June with a final flavour sensory competition and the presentation of prizes to the winners, with a tasting of the new blend created during the talent event.


The participants will be video-recorded and the videos will be available on and on the talent event’s social channels.





Competitors will have the opportunity to see and pick many different varieties of coffee. Among these, the Castillo and Colombia, created ad hoc in a laboratory to combat the Roya, also called "“leaf rust”", a fungus which strikes the coffee leaf and is capable of destroying entire plantations. Thanks to these new varieties it has been possible to save many plantations and companies that would otherwise have been forced to close.


Another variety is Caturra, the most widespread type in Colombia; in recent years, this is the variety that has suffered most from leaf rust, but several growers have decided not to abandon its production, despite the risk involved, so as not to lose this variety which is the symbol of Cafè de Colombia.


Among the other varieties are also two very rare and precious coffees: the Borbon Rosato, a natural mutation of Borbon which has a pink berry and has a very particular taste, very tropical; and Geicha, the so-called coffee gold, which is the most precious coffee in the world with prices ranging from €600 to €1000 per kilo.


Colombia – 2017 production data


With exports between November 2016 and October 2017 amounting to 13.4 million bags of green coffee (+8.3% compared to the same period of the previous year, according to recent data reprocessed by the Comitato Italiano del Caffè (Italian Coffee Committee) - source Istat/International Coffee Organization), Colombia confirms itself to be the world’s third biggest exporter of coffee after Brazil and Vietnam, and has always played a crucial role among world producers, both for the excellent quality of its raw material and for the small communities of producers who cultivate it with great dedication and passion, often still using traditional and high quality methods. Colombian green coffee imports into Italy reached 261,906 bags in the period January - September 2017.


According to December 2017 data, provided by the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia, founded in 1927 to support the work and development of producers, one third of the population (around 33%) living in rural areas depends on coffee revenues. In terms of numbers, this means about 726 thousand direct workers and 1.4 million indirect workers, altogether 32% of agricultural workers. Coffee represents 17% of the GDP deriving from agriculture: besides being the third largest producer of coffee, Colombia is in first place as far as the Arabica washed variety is concerned (14 million bags per year), which is particularly appreciated for its high quality. There are 555 thousand Colombian producers, 684 thousand farms, and a land area of 931 thousand hectares dedicated to coffee: the vast majority of farmers (96%) own less than 5 hectares of land.


In Colombia, the Giuseppe and Pericle Lavazza Foundation is carrying out important sustainability projects in the municipalities of Mesetas, Lejanias and San Juan de Arama to provide coffee farmers with the tools to manage the effects of climate change and reintegrate producer families in areas that have been the focus of the FARC conflict in recent decades. At the Sigep, Lavazza presented its new Lavazza iTierra! Colombia blend for the very first time, which joins the iTierra! premium range. With its sustainable flavour and quality, produced by Rainforest Alliance certified farms, which combine production excellence, respect for the environment and social attention, Lavazza iTierra! Colombia is a 100% Arabica blend that comes exclusively from Colombian crops and will be available to customers from autumn 2018.