I recently paid Campos Melbourne a visit to have a chat with their ever delightful and softly spoken barista Patrick Dann, who just returned from a trip to origin. Truth be told, Patrick was once a customer at this Elgin Street spot, dropping in each morning over a period of 2 years while studying at RMIT. With each day that passed, he became more amazed by coffee and the complexity in flavours from each origin, until one fine day when the passion became so overwhelming, he took the plunge and accepted a job as a barista. Patrick didn’t spare a minute to absorb as much knowledge as possible, reading every book he could get his hands on, and asking all the curious questions to the roasting team. Fourteen months on, and he now has his feet firmly planted in this ever evolving field, and has just returned from his first origin trip to Colombia. It’s been an incredible journey, and from listening to him speak of his experiences, I could feel the exhilaration. He spoke of how farms were juxtaposed, with some densely populated with trees, while neighbours were much smaller; and some run by large families, while others managed by sole farmers. A memorable moment was the 3 days spent at Finca La Negrita with producer Mauricio Shattah. Here Patrick experienced the full cycle, from planting seeds in small pots, to moving them to the mountains at altitudes up to 2100 meters above sea level. Mauricio is an innovative farmer who takes a scientific approach to production. He has moved away from traditional processing methods, and focuses on honey and natural processing, while also experimenting with fermentations using a variety of yeasts and acids. It’s actually from this farm that Campos source their honey processed gesha, which I had the pleasure of brewing as a filter coffee earlier this year. I can only imagine the stunning panoramic view that have been etched into Patricks mind. Reality also struck home for him, having seen the impact global warming is having. On the bright side, hearing how grateful farmers were for the support from roasters like Campos, was nothing short of humbling. This kind of experience allows for members of the coffee industry to see, feel, and understand on a profoundly deep level just what farmers on the other side of the world endure.
We must never forget, most coffee is grown in developing countries, and millions of people depend on their crop to make a living. It’s the difference between surviving, and starving.