Take a look at the attendee list for Barista Camp over the past few years and you'll notice that we have a particularly high number of repeat attendees. This alone is a fantastic sign to us that we must be doing something right, but we wanted to take things a little further and ask our regulars why they keep on coming back!
There's a whole load of wonderful success stories from Camp so we've compiled a few for you to reminisce or be inspired. For those of you in any doubt of the value of Barista Camp, read on!
Name: Sven Konopfa
Which Barista Camp did you attend? Estonia in 2016
How did the Barista Camp change your views of working as a barista? I gained massive insight – for example how the work of other baristas can look differently in their specific circumstances. Also I learned that there is much to be learned. I learned that I know less than I thoughtI knew. Finally, I learned much that I would like to take home and implement in my everyday life; to become more professional and to offer my customers more than ‘just’ an espresso or milk-based beverages. I want to offer speciality coffee in its purest form. I would like to becomean ambassador for speciality coffee every day in my shop.
What will you change when you get back to your job? First of all, I have to digest all the shared knowledge and ideas I picked up here in Barista Camp. I definitely want to implement a brew bar in the café where I work. I will probably start with somethingsimple, like a batch-brewer with rotating coffees that our customers have not tasted before. This way customers will be able to try out filter coffee in the city where I’m from and this does not exist there at all at the moment. On top of that, what I would love is to bring more filter equipment, like an Aeropress, from home and integrate it into our menu. This is somethingI have done before but not made a big splash about. I would at least like to offer this service to regulars so they know they can get it, even if it’s not officially on the menu.
Why did you volunteer and would you encourage other people to volunteer? I applied without really knowing what I was getting myself into. I knew that being a volunteer would mean helping and supporting trainers in their courses, but what that exactly involved was not really clear to me. The only certain assumption that I made was that I would be amongst other crazy coffee people. I wanted to throw myself into a situation where I would spend a couple of days with other coffee nerds, where I would not be the misfit anymore. I was among people where I know what they are talking about, who give valuable feedback, share knowledge and share their views on topics. To be part of Barista Camp made me appreciate the knowledge that is gained when people share. On top of that, it made me appreciate being part of the community I have which I had mainly connected to throughsocial media. By following the news, stories and pictures I know what is happening in the coffee world, but this Barista Camp made me feel part of the community, not just an observer. I know people in the coffee landscape, but I really wanted to dive into it this time.
Did you dive in? Absolutely! I know Annemarie [Tiemes, SCAE’s Education Field Manager] from following her journeys around the globe on Facebook for years. I knew that she was connected to education. Isa [Verschraegen, Barista Guild of Europe Manager] and Ben [Townsend, BGE Education Coordinator] and all the other people at Camp were big names for me before I came here. I knew that they were people that move things forward in the coffee scene so to meet them at the breakfast table and have a normal, easy-going conversation with them was amazing. I felt a bit intimidated at the beginning because I did not want to ask any stupid questions. However, I soon realised that there are no arrogant people at Barista Camp and that all questions were appreciated. To talk with these people on an eye-to-eye basis was an experience I would not want to have missed! Finally, I would not encourage just anybody to go to Barista Camp; if you go, you should be really interested in coffee!
Are you planning to come to Camp next year again? Yes, absolutely! As soon as the application process is open again, I will apply to volunteer. However, depending on which classes will be offered, I might come as a participant. Though I enjoyed the role as a volunteer very much, getting to know the Coffee Diploma System modules from the inside and working closely with a trainer gave me useful insights. Also, I think I would enjoy the community and gathering of baristas from all over Europe more without the stress of having an exam the next day.
Follow Sven @barista_sven_konopka
Name: Ruud Boogaard
Workplace: Black Coffee Roasters
Which Barista Camp did you attend? Barista Camp 2015, Riccione, Italy
Where did you work when you attended camp? At that time I was not employed and searching for what to do in the coffee business before starting my company. Now I am in the progress of starting up my roastery for single origin speciality coffees. And I am studying hard on Sensory Skills, Roasting and Green Coffee SCAE modules to become a certified AST in 2017.
How did Barista Camp change your outlook on your career in the coffee industry? In total the very driven atmosphere of all the people being there. There was no feeling whatsoever of business competition. Everybody was very open in sharing knowledge and information. For me, this was the point of definitely wanting to be part of that world.
Can you describe an opportunity that arose for you as a result of attending Barista Camp? This was meeting Patrick O'Malley..! As a AST, but also as a person. If I could become only 10% of an AST he is, I will be satisfied and have reached one of my goals.
Why would you recommend attending Barista Camp to one of your peers? It's a real opportunity to meet many true ambitious and inspiring people in the coffee industry. You will expand your network enormously, enjoy the great atmosphere during the camp and make new friends with several coffee-addicts such as yourself. Also, the courses are given by the best AST's you can get. And - last but not least - the price tag of Barista Camp and all its benefits is very attractive
What are your goals and ambitions for the coming years? As I already mentioned: starting up my roastery "Black Coffee Roasters" and putting my brands "Black Gem" and "Black Drip" in the consumer and retail market. And starting as an AST and give workshops and certified courses as "Black Academy". All which can already be found on the web (http://www.blackcoffeeroasters.nl) and Facebook.
Will you be returning to Barista Camp in 2016? Yes, because I want to enjoy everything during Camp the same way as in Riccione last year. And to follow the SCAE Green Coffee Intermediate course, which is on my to-do bucket list. Additionally, before Barista Camp 2016, I will also be there earlier to follow the first 3-day Roaster Camp. I'm very much looking forward to that!
Name: Janis Podins
Workplace: Five Elephant, Berlin
Which Barista Camp did you attend? Barista Camp 2014, Athens, Greece
Where did you work when you attended camp? I worked at my local coffee shop in MiiT Coffee in Riga, Latvia as a Head Barista and just a coffee enthusiast and lover. Fast forward two years and I am currently working in Berlin at Five Elephant as a barista and manager for almost a year now.
How did Barista Camp change your outlook on your career in the coffee industry? Barista camp was a great learning experience, not just the courses, but also to learn from other people and see how to approach different things. That was very inspiring to watch. After Barista camp I was surer of what I was doing and the experience gave me ideas that I can share with others.
Can you describe an opportunity that arose for you as a result of attending Barista Camp? The biggest opportunity was to learn from an established system, that is created for that purpose, to help people evolve in their careers and inspire them to be better.
Why would you recommend attending Barista Camp to one of your peers? It is great fun, you meet new friends, meet amazing people from the industry, hear great ideas and who knows you can even be a part of them.
What are your goals and ambitions for the coming years? I guess never to stop; I have always liked to be all around, not just one dimensional, so for me is growing my knowledge and put it into practice. Also, compete again in the World Barista Championship.
Will you be returning to Barista Camp in 2016? Yes, because Pärnu is a great city and I want to advance in some SCAE courses and meet new people.
Name: Claire Wallace
Workplace: Brew Lab Coffee, Edinburgh
Which Barista Camp did you attend? Barista Camp 2014 & 2015
Where did you work when you attended camp? Brew Lab Coffee
How did Barista Camp change your outlook on your career in the coffee industry? The connections I have made - not just with fellow baristas, but with AST's and with the Barista Guild working group- have been invaluable. Not only have I gained professional connections, but also a host of new friends from across Europe. They have helped me to shape an idea of what my future in coffee could look like!
Can you describe an opportunity that arose for you as a result of attending Barista Camp? I don't think I would have had the confidence to compete in the UK Barista Championship had I not had the encouragement and support from previous competitors who attended Camp. They all offered a great amount of support and advice, and many of the friends I made through my Camp attendance were kind enough to sit through my run throughs and give me feedback. National Competition turned out to be such a rewarding experience, but would have never happened without the support and inspiration I got from the Camp community!
Why would you recommend attending Barista Camp to one of your peers? Although an SCAE qualification is a great incentive in itself, there is so much more to the camp experience than just lecture learning. For three days, you're communicating with a few hundred like-minded people from all different backgrounds, with different levels of experience, and different goals. The amount of knowledge and ideas you can glean in those three days is incredible. Besides that, Camp is also just amazing fun!
What are your goals and ambitions for the coming years? In the short term, I am hoping to compete in the UK Barista Championships again next year. I'm terrible at planning long term, but I do want to continue learning through the SCAE diploma system. I've been inspired by the great team of teachers we've had at Camp, and i would love to gain an AST accreditation in the future.
Will you be returning to Barista Camp in 2016? Yes, because every year I learn a huge amount, meet some great new friends and leave totally inspired by coffee people!
Name: Veronika Keckesova
Which Barista Camp did you attend? I have attended both of them in Greece and Italy :) And, i am getting ready for this one as well :)
Where did you work when you attended camp? When I first attended camp I was already working as a barista for some time, mostly not knowing what I was doing. It was a small local coffee shop in Norway, Fredrikstad. At the moment I do not work as a barista anymore, doing some judging occasionally :)
How did Barista Camp change your outlook on your career in the coffee industry? When I started as a barista it was just an easy way out, needed job, got a job. At that time I would never dream of making it a career or even consider that as an option. I did not know any better than that until I got to camp. By that time I had already realised that there is so much more hidden within coffee but I was still blind. I am not sure what you really mean by career path, I have never earned millions nor have I become Coffee Master of the universe. I stayed at that local coffee shop until I relocated and changed my job completely, but most importantly, camp has changed my life path, that is for sure :) Camp provided me with inspiration and energy, I started taking courses, meeting people, went to origin and eventually was lucky enough to get to judge and for that I am most grateful even though when it comes to that I am in still in diapers! And finally, those who I have met on my journey-PHENOMENAL :)
Can you describe an opportunity that arose for you as a result of attending Barista Camp? The most unbelievable thing has happened and suddenly I was sitting in Budapest attending the judges training.
Why would you recommend attending Barista Camp to one of your peers? I know, I know....careers, opportunities and so on..... But I would recommend attending camp to take an opportunity to create friendships that will survive distance and time, that will fill up your heart, that has happened to me and I cherish it the most, and without that feeling, without being part of that amazing community I will never be where I am now and who I am now professionally and personally.
What are your goals and ambitions for the coming years? Attend more camps :)
Will you be returning to Barista Camp in 2016? Yes, because it's long enough to wait for a year. I have been missing you guys and it's time to learn something new and move forward!
Name: Paul Velder
Which Barista Camp did you attend? I have attended both of them in Greece and Italy.
Where did you work when you attended camp? Together with a friend I run a roastery.
How did Barista Camp change your outlook on your career in the coffee industry? Being at the past barista camps didn't change my path, but rather proved that I was on the right one. Roasting coffee is what I really love doing. Attending barista camp gave me more insights on how baristas approach their coffees. This helps me improve our roasts.
Can you describe an opportunity that arose for you as a result of attending Barista Camp? I haven't had any direct opportunities that came from the barista camp. However, during the camp I did get inspiration for ideas that will help move our roastery further.
Why would you recommend attending Barista Camp to one of your peers? The Barista Camp is a great way to boost your experience as you meet a lot of people from the industry whose brains you can pick about almost anything coffee related.
What are your goals and ambitions for the coming years? Keep improving the quality of our coffees and start sharing my coffee knowledge with people interested in getting into the business.
Will you be returning to Barista Camp in 2016? Yes, to share experiences with other coffee minded people and get some more coffee education. As well as some cold beers ;)