Jim Hoffman is the reigning barista champion in the United Kingdom.
Last week he took a trip to El Salvador to visit plantations that are providing him with the beans he'll be using in the upcoming World Barista Championships in Bern.
If you want a look at the kind of trip just about every caring barista dreams of, Jim's blog provides it. While most working stiffs desire a vacation at a fine resort or ski slope or Disney, the ultimate barista trip is connecting to origin.
We're all looking at this and thinking to ourselves... damn.
Some particularly amazing excerpts from Jim's trip diary:
"So..... I was invited to go to El Salvador as a guest of the Consejo (The El Salvadoran Coffee Council) due to the fact that two of their coffees featured very heavily in my blend that won the UKBC this year.
This was my first visit to origin. I don't think it could have been any better. I learnt a great deal about not only the current situation, the past problems within the country, but also about the varietals specific to El Salvador and how they came about - the Pacas and Pacamaras in particular. This is probably deserving of a separate post...
After a quick breakfast briefing on the current state of specialty coffee (something I will write more about later) we headed off from San Salvador to the Santa Ana region. The first farm I would visit would be San Roberto, which produced the winning coffee at the Cup of Excellence 2005. We were met by not only Don Lito, who owned the farm, but Alfredo who owned the mill that produced the coffee. San Roberto is by no means a big farm - 4 or 5 hectares. It is part of a larger plot divided into six. Alfredo was a great guy, very funny and kept us entertained as we wandered around. The eruption last year had affected the farm, and many more around it, and there had been some overly heavy rains last year which had also caused a problem.
One of these days we're going to have to stowaway in Geoff Watts' luggage.