What does it take to be a national champion barista? Prepare an amazing coffee right? Oh, it takes a whole lot more than that! We got the chance to chat with the enthusiastic Diego Fernando Campos, reigning 2014 Colombian barista champ (he’s also ‘Latte Art Champion’ 2011!) who plies his trade in Chapinero’s Amor Perfecto, a powerhouse in cultivating barista champions. He follows in the footsteps of his co-worker, Nicolás, who walked away with the coveted prize last year. Diego will be representing Colombia in the World Barista Championship next year in order to try and bring the trophy to Colombia for the first time ever!
See Colombia: Diego, how did you get your start in coffee and being a barista?
Diego Fernando Campos: I am originally from Espinal in Tolima, and arrived in Bogotá in 2008 to study. At the time I had no experience in coffee. I joined the Amor Perfecto team as a roaster and learned everything on the job and through experience. From there I learned to taste and cup coffee and finally to prepare it as a barista. When I started out, I never imagined I would become the barista champion of Colombia!
SC: What are your aspirations with coffee? Where do you want to go from here?
DFC: The most important thing for me is that I want the coffee culture here in Colombia to keep growing and developing. Whether with my own business some day or with Amor Perfecto, I want to keep dedicating myself to this dream. And I would really love to participate in the World Championship for coffee roasting next.
SC: So what is the National Championship like? What does it take to become a champion?
DFC: Each barista has 15 minutes to prepare 4 cappuccinos, 4 espressos and 4 of a “bebida diseñada”; an original preparation to show off your creativity and skill. My drink for the National competition was a panela (raw Colombian sugar cane) and tamarind infused creation using a coffee from Huila. Whilst doing this you have to talk the judges through everything you are doing and how you are preparing the coffee. The judges are a panel of 4 professionals and there are others alongside you grading your technique as you go.
SC: Wow, no pressure or anything! So your next step will be to compete against the best in the world in the World Barista Championship. What will this be like?
DFC: I am really excited and have a lot of training and practicing to do! I will be the representative from Colombia between April 9-12, 2015 in Seattle, in the USA. There has never been a world champion from Colombia before and our highest ever placing was 8th when the competition was actually in Colombia a few years ago. The winners have traditionally been from the United States, Australia or European countries, like Spain and Italy. My goal is to change that this year. The format of the international competition is exactly the same, but this time I have to do my presentation entirely in English! This is my first trip to the US but I have had the chance to travel to South Korea, Norway and England in the past with Amor Perfecto. I would love to go to Australia one day soon too!
SC: So personally, what is your favorite Colombian coffee? And what creation are you working on for the World Championship?
DFC: Well, it is really important to show something extremely different in the coffee you present. My personal favorites are Huila and Nariño origin coffees because they have very expressive profiles and intense, very distinguished flavors. I am going to stick with my specialty drink from the National competition but I will be tweaking it a bit. I am working directly with the actual farm and coffee-grower, a close friend, in Huila, in order to to develop something truly unforgettable. I travel there often and we are working on a natural production method that should create a really amazing coffee. I think a Colombian barista actually has a great opportunity in the World Championship because we have such an incredible diversity of coffees here in our homeland.
Well, we here at the Colombia Travel Blog completely agree with that! We can’t wait to watch you show the world in just a few months. Gracias Diego y vamos cafeteros!
You can follow Diego along with us at worldbaristachampionship.org where a live-stream will be available for the competition presentations.