Monday, September 12, 2011
Baristas are one of the most important pieces of the coffee chain. They are the ones that transform that brown roasted bean into a specialty drink that inspires and motivates people around the globe. Baristas have a lot of responsibility in their hands. When they craft that drink, they are not just making a product for sale, but they are working at creating a piece of art, a delicate combination of water, pressure and coffee.
And it is no coincidence that Alejandro Mendez, from El Salvador, was picked as this year's World Barista Champion. This is a hotly contested event. Contestants from all over the world flocked down to Colombia this year to participate. And yet, for the past ten years, the Champion has come from the coffee "consuming" countries, not the producing ones. In part this is due to the fact that it is in these countries (US, Holland, Spain and the UK) that the most demanding coffee connoisseurs live. And so baristas from these countries are more accustomed to preparing high quality coffee beverages. But in 2011, the honor of the Championship was given to a young man from a very poor country, where increasingly, top quality coffee is grown. A country where young people desperately need role models like Alejandro, and jobs, to combat violence and unemployment. This is an exciting time for El Salvador. And for the Central American region as a whole. This event has been an inspiration. I've had the opportunity to travel to some of these coffee growing countries in the past three months. And the word is out about the Barista World Champion. People speak of the event and of Alejandro with a certain degree of pride and admiration. Enthusiastic that a world champion can emerge from a tiny little country such as El Salvador.
So our double congratulations go for Alejandro. Not only for being a great coffee master, but also for being a great young role model for his country and his region. Adelante Alejandro!!