Every year, Temple sends one of its most outstanding baristas to Antigua, Guatemala as part of Luis Pedro’s Barista Exchange program at his production facility Bella Vista. This year, we sent the ever passionate and kind Elise Richardson. This is her story.
There was a romantic unknown, a curious nervousness about this trip. I’ve spent the last six years of my life studying and falling in love with the flavors and culture surrounding coffee, but it was in my own worldview and language. I was curious to see what I would learn, and whom I would learn it with. I was anticipating a coffee focused work trip, but left imprinted with the beautiful faces of the people I met. I was by far more deeply affected by the people, their hospitality and knowledge, than any “coffee” experience I had.
On my first morning I was introduced to the amazing group of baristas and green coffee buyers I would spend my first couple days with: a hodgepodge of Canadians, Japanese, and Americans, all there to experience the busy coffee processing time in Antigua, Guatemala. As we sat in the terrace of Bella Vista (the café I would be working in for the week), I began to soak up the beautiful architecture and scenery.
Antigua used to be the Capital of Guatemala until the late 1700’s when a massive earthquake destroyed much of the city. Many ruins of original buildings still remain scattered throughout the otherwise Spanish Colonial style architecture. Red stone roofs, cobblestone streets, roof top terraces, and indoor courtyards gave the city a luxurious small town feel. Surrounding the city in every direction are massive volcanoes, which when the sky is clear you can see spitting up smoke in the distance.