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Words and photos by Lissy Matthews

Spending a week in Indian Wells, California in June for Barista Camp teaches one a few things: First, it has been an exciting year for the Specialty Coffee Association of America with a new competition set up, the debut of a new flavor wheel and a possible unification with the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe on the horizon. Secondly, the specialty coffee world is teeming  with the most amazing, passionate people. Finally, 119 degrees fahrenheit won’t actually kill you, miraculously. 

Sponsored by the Barista Guild of America and the SCAA, Barista Camp is offered three times throughout the year. This four day event provides an opportunity for baristas from all over the world to network with fellow specialty coffee nerds and industry professionals, take SCAA pathway courses towards SCAA Barista Level 1 or Level 2, compete on a team for prizes, and even float on a giant, inflatable piece of pizza in a pool (if you are as lucky as we were).

While at Barista Camp, I worked to complete my Level 1 Barista pathway requirements (courses taught by industry giants such as 2014 US Barista Champion Laila Willbur) and was certified as an SCAA Instructor.

Among the many takeaways (including some amazing coffee and swag!) from my experience from Barista Camp, what sticks most prominently in my mind is how many opportunities there are to get involved. Whether you want to begin taking certification courses, compete at a national or international level,advance your career through networking, become certified to teach classes, volunteer at an SCAA event, become a technical or sensory judge or just become a BGA member, you can do it. Get in touch with us at Kickapoo Coffee, the SCAA or the BGA. Jump in! You won’t regret it.