Tag Archives: Barista Guild of America

Colin Francois – Field Report from Barista Camp

June 13, 2014

Q & A With Colin Francois, Barista Camp Back From the Field- Report

Interviewed by Sarah Dooley

Colin with BGA instructor Alex Littlejohn

Colin with BGA instructor Alex Littlejohn

Baratza is as serious about great home and light commercial grinders as we are about employee development. In the past year, we’ve sent two team members to the Barista Guild of America’s Barista Camp for Level 1 Certification. We believe in education experiences like these, combining top-notch curriculum with hands on activities. Recently our team member, Colin Francois joined 100 plus coffee people in Fontana, Wisconsin, population 1,625, for some good old fashion barista glamping. (Glamorous camping if you didn’t catch that one.)

SD: What is your role at Baratza?

CF: Baratza Sales Support

SD: Describe your day-to-day activities:

CF: I typically get to work just before my shift starts and make coffee for the office. One Chemex, two espresso’s and a cappuccino will usually do the trick for all of us. Then I get right to phone support, process sales and support emails while fighting off the slumber gnomes with more coffee. It’s actually pretty interesting, my conversations are never dull and we always seem to have a solution.

SD: Are you a member of the Barista Guild of America?

CF: Yes, most valuable membership I have to date!

SD: What inspired you to go to Barista Camp?

CF: Sarah Dooley (my co-worker) said it would be a great full circle experience of engaging activities, learning and relationship building.

SD: What’s your favorite beverage coffee and beyond?

CF: Chemex for coffee and an Old Fashioned

SD: What delighted you the most about the week?

CF: Laila Ghambari’s competition routine at camp was incredible! The second she mentioned concord grape, the fragrance filled the room… it gave me goosebumps.

SD: What was the worst part about camp?

CF: Breakfast was terrible. While I was thankful, I’m not a big fan “tub-o-eggs” and hash-browns. A large plate of fruit and a pile of bacon it was for me!

SD: Was there something you learned that will really help you with your career path in coffee?

CF: The Introduction to Cupping courses were a experiences for me. Tasting with the flavor wheel and using the unified language surrounding coffee made a lot of sense and I’ve immediately put it to use.

SD: Boxers or Briefs?

CF: Briefs

Wilbur Curtis' Seraphim Brewer

Wilbur Curtis’ Seraphim Brewer


SD: Besides Baratza’s newest grinder for light commercial use, the Forté Series, did you notice something particularly awesome in the world of equipment, ie: any new innovations or clever bar tools?

CF: The Seraphim by Curtis had a really cool look and the coffees prepared with this water delivery system were quite tasty.

SD: How many pull-ups can you do?

CF: Ha, 15

SD: What were your actual achievements from your time at camp?

CF: Hmmm….

  • Level 1 Certification
  • 2nd Place in the Camp 5K, I won a pretty cool Hario Ice Dripper just in time for Summer
  • Most importantly, I also feel like I am definitely more comfortable helping our customers troubleshoot brewing issues. Barista Camp reinforces the things you do know and opens your eyes to a lot of variables and processes that really just make you better.

Colin with Lorenzo Perkins of Cuvee Coffee

Colin with Lorenzo Perkins of Cuvee Coffee


SD: Did you make a potential new email pen pal?

CF: At camp you get assigned to a camp team. On the first evening we broke into our groups, assigned a team leader, made a team poster and created a team name, in our case “Super Fines”. Interestingly enough, as we sat down in our groups, the subject of roommates came up. Had we met our roommates yet etc. It just so happened I hadn’t really met my roommate but I did come to see him up on the stage welcoming all of us to camp and sharing the festivities ahead. So while I hadn’t physically met my roomie, Lorenzo Perkins was there meeting and greeting all of us.

SD: Would you recommend barista camp to your peers in coffee? Why?

CF: Absolutely yes! Overall it was a really great learning experience. The coffee industry consists of people from a lot of different walks in life. It was fun to share and listen.

SD: If I was going to Barista Camp tomorrow, what should I bring?

CF: Take snacks to class for sure! Some of the sessions run upwards of 3 hours …oh and bring enough to share with at least one other person too.

Forté-BG on Bar at TED2014

Only 3 days left before TED2014 kicks off! This year Canada is the location and “World Coffee Events (WCE) has partnered with TED, to design and execute a coffee and tea program for TED2014 in Vancouver and TEDActive in Whistler”. The program is focused on Specialty Coffee, enriching the attendee experience and a offering a time of coffee discovery for many!

Peter Guiliano, Director of SCAA’s Symposium says about TEDCoffee “we are once again planning a paradigm-busting coffee service for the conference. Extraordinary representatives of the Barista Guild will craft coffees at a network of coffee bars, featuring special coffees from Canada and other exciting coffees from around the world. We continue to be committed to collaboration, exploration, and excellence, and to spreading the word of specialty coffee among the unique TED audience.”
Laila at TED using Vario-W
This is Baratza’s third year of partnership with the coffee program, through providing grinders for the brew bars. For the last couple of years the Vario-W was on bar and this year we’re thrilled to be able to offer the Forté-BG (Brew Grinder) commercial weight-based grinders to be the workhorses for the event. We’re confident they’ll provide accurate, consistent grinding for the huge volume of delicious coffee that will be brewed!

Sharing their coffee knowledge and expertise, as well as putting 12 Forté-BG’s through their paces this week, will be an awesome team of baristas, from Canada and the US. Not only can they make great coffee but they also have in-depth coffee knowledge and a deep commitment to providing exemplary customer service.

Sarah Dooley, our Education and Quality Manager, worked TED for the last two years and was the team lead for TED Active in San Diego. When we talked about her experience there, she said “attendees craved one-on-one conversations, asking where the coffee was from, who was the farmer/roaster, and barista’s favorite coffee? Having the Baratza Vario-W’s with the ability to grind by weight allowed us to interact over the beverage rather than focusing on building the beverage. In the early TED conferences we had to pre-weigh everything, and we couldn’t keep up, weighing into anything we could get our hands on! The Vario-W made a big difference for us Baristas. The grinders made it super easy to dial in a new coffee, for accurate and consistent grinding, allowing more time to interact about the coffee and further that experience with our guests at the counter. We didn’t have to focus on the equipment. TED is so inspirational for all the baristas. Brewing side by side with peers, or with people that you know through social media, while presenting amazing coffees, confirmed that we were very much a part of the TED experience.”

We wish all the baristas and WCE organizers a very successful week, and thank them in advance for volunteering their time and for creating this enriching coffee experience for the TED Attendees.

Other sources for info on the event: