Every year, the Temple Coffee staff votes for one hardworking barista to be sent to Antigua, Guatemala. There, they are completely submerged in the culture of the city and learn about one of the farms we have the strongest working relationships with- Bella Vista. On this week-long trip, the chosen barista is able to work at the Bella Vista cafe in town and tour the coffee farm. Few baristas in the industry are ever able to visit coffee farms, or as it is romantically called, “origin.” We are proud to be able to send a barista ever year to origin and help them expand their specialty coffee knowledge and experiences.
This year Ted Evans of our S St cafe was voted to go to Guatemala. He is well known for his absolute love and dedication for specialty coffee and customer service. In addition to pulling espresso shots and cracking jokes with customers, he doubles as one of our production roasters. Here is Ted’s story of his time in Antigua, Guatemala:
By Ted Evans, Temple Coffee S St Barista and Production Roaster
¡Hola! ¡Buenos dias!
The Latin language courses I took in high school did me no good in a developing Latin American country. I thought I could get by with what little Spanish I picked up from working alongside Spanish-speakers in my past work. As it turns out, Spanish curse words and crude humor are of no use in day-to-day conversation. But Google Translate is an amazing tool.
¡Frijoles, frijoles, frijoles!
Before visiting Guatemala, I did a little research about local dishes, that way I was somewhat knowledgeable and not that annoying gringo eating Subway the whole time. And yes, there is a Subway in Guatemala. Having arrived late at night into Antigua, it wasn’t until the next morning that I enjoyed my first “meal,” which was a simple breakfast street sandwich. The man serving them had a bushy mustache, a small smile, and tan as Pauly D after a summer at the Shore. He by no means followed any food safety guidelines: hand touched money, hand touched food, and food went into my mouth. I was asking to get sick, which I miraculously did not, but instead I got a very tasty sandwich. Comprised of a bread roll (bolillo), black beans (frijoles), scrambled eggs (huevos), some kind of lettuce coleslaw (curtido), and salsa (salsa), I never knew simple could taste so darn good. Considering I only saw locals grabbing bites from this vendor, I felt like I put on a little Guatemalan camouflage by carrying this sandwich around town.
The rest of my breakfasts were just as amazing. Just about every morning I had fried eggs, black beans, cooked tomatoes, a piece of white cheese, and a bread roll. The black beans I had throughout my trip were worthy of writing home about. So much better than anything I had tried in the States. And in case you wondered, yes, you can get frijoles on your Subway sandwich in Antigua.
Three magnificent volcanoes taller than 12,300 feet dance in the clouds surround Antigua. I signed up for a day hike to the summit of Volcán de Fuego, the furthest away of the three, which spews smoke and ash about every 15 minutes. Thinking it was a good way to get out of town and see the countryside, this 12 hour hike was easily one of the hardest hikes I have ever completed and was complete torture to my leg muscles. I have never seen “trails” so steep, plus the elevation kept me from catching my breath. Reaching the summit is getting thrown in my “coolest things I have ever done” bag. Fuego cracked and thundered, billowed plumes of smoke high into the sky, and brought little goose pimples to my skin. If we meet in real life and you want to talk about Guatemala, you better get ready to hear about my hiking stories.