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The fall SCAA Barista Guild Camp was a great experience - again!

I say again because even though this was my first Barista Camp, I had heard a lot about the spring and summer BGA Camps from Tim Hibbs, who was the OptiPure water-guy at those events. At each Camp OptiPure has been the water sponsor, which means we crafted the water to meet SCAA Gold Cup standards and kept the 5 gallon jugs full for all of the espresso machines, hot water towers and coffee brewers used in the classes. At this Camp we produced the water with an OptiPure BWS350/50 Reverse Osmosis System.

Having heard about previous Camps I was not surprised at how well the event was organized or the enthusiasm of the Campers. What I didn’t realize was that the work involved in filling and rotating 60 five-gallon bottles and making sure there was always optimized water at each machine can kick your butt! Actually, trying to keep up with James, who lugged most of the bottles, is what really wore me out. I was extremely impressed with the SCAA crew and the team of volunteers and instructors that made this event happen, and I was glad to be part of it. It was truly a first class learning experience for everyone that attended.

Geoff Watts from Intelligentsia Coffee Presentation

Geoff Watts from Intelligentsia Coffee kicked off the Camp with a great presentation on "Origins of Quality"

I was also struck by the diversity of the group. Along with aspiring and seasoned baristas there were cafe owners, roasters and business people involved in different facets of the specialty coffee world. And I do mean world. I enjoyed meeting people from all over North America and several Latin American countries as well. By the way, it was amazing how much water these people could consume - pulling shots! Did you know that 5 gallons of water weighs 42 pounds?

What I probably enjoyed most about the event was the enthusiasm and passion everyone had about being part of the evolving specialty coffee industry. Engulfed in an environment of knowledge, experience and top-of-the-line equipment I sensed from the Campers an excitement and anticipation like a surfer about to drop into a perfect wave. As their knowledge and skills grew so did their confidence, and the BGA Certification is a great addition to your resumé.

The event was held at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage California, and the weather was beautiful. This made for some pleasant evenings on the veranda mingling and chatting. I had several stimulating conversations that, I hope, left Campers thinking more about water and its role in crafting great coffee, and left me excited about working with café’s, roasters and baristas to help them make the best decision about water filtration for their needs. Speaking of “their needs”, over the Camp we filled more than 250 five-gallon bottles. That means I lifted (with a lot of help from James) over four tons in just four days – Whew!

It was a pleasure to work with the exceptional SCAA team, to be a part of such a successful program and to meet and connect with so many dedicated and passionate professionals in the specialty coffee world. At OptiPure we have a lot in common with coffee aficionados. We both appreciate the important relationship between water and coffee.


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