By Jordan Sanchez
I took part in my first coffee event in 2014 outside of Athens, Greece at the first Barista Guild of Europe (BGE) Camp. As a part of a rad group of volunteers, outside of taking photos and running the BGE’s Instagram account, it was the hustle and bustle of an event—doing the things that volunteers do. Camp turned out to provide a pretty insightful look into the industry, which I knew almost nothing about. At that first Barista Camp, I asked Reg Barber what he did, to which he replied that he worked in the industry and was one of the sponsors. After a minute or so I figured out who he was, but I was pretty floored by his nothing-to-it response. Later that day, I stopped asking people what they did once I realized most people there were rock stars.
Since then, I’ve been able to shoot photos for the BGE and Roaster Guild of Europe (RGE) a couple of times per year as a media partner. It has been a cool connection I’m very glad to have made, so a big thanks goes out to Janis Podins (Five Elephant) for suggesting that I volunteer, and to Isa Verschraegen (Guilds Director of the SCA) for making it happen.
Having a foot in the door as a photographer at coffee events has given me the opportunity to meet people, hear talks, and be a part of conversations that I’ve learned a lot from—and I hope to take many of the things I’ve learned with me as I take a step further into coffee.
Another part of the industry that’s made an impact on me is the community. And sure, everyone talks about community—whether it’s about the communities at origin or the bond that’s made between producers and buyers, or the other aspects of community—I don’t know of many other industries that try to foster it like specialty coffee does. And it’s definitely something worth fostering, not only so businesses can be sustainable, but also so that we as people can function in a healthy manner as a part of society, and hopefully improve everything around us. The potential the specialty coffee community has for making an impact on society—even just at the “neighborhood coffee shop”—is great, and it’s that part of coffee that I think has a lot of merit.
While I love having the opportunity to shoot at events, learn about geeky things, visit amazing shops around Europe, drink great coffee and tasty craft beer—it’s the folks that a make it all happen the best part of it all.
Jordan Sanchez is an adventure, lifestyle, wedding, and coffee photographer. You can see his work on Instagram.