10 (More) Minutes With Helena Oliviero

10 (More) Minutes With Helena Oliviero

Understanding the Process: Koji Fermentation

Continuing our series on coffee processing, we learn about koji fermentation, a unique process usually associated with the brewing of sake. BY TANYA NANETTISENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT Photos courtesy of Forest Coffee If brewed properly, a cup of coffee can offer countless variations of flavor and aroma. The quality and complexity of these attributes depend on many different […]

A Look at Digital Coffee Future’s Digital Origin Education Program

The new program connects coffee producers to one another, provides them with educational resources, and more. BY VASILEIA FANARIOTISENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT Photos courtesy of the Cocaerol, Comal & Amprocal cooperatives in Honduras Since 2021, Digital Coffee Future (DCF) has been working on a digital training program to address the needs of coffee producers. In September […]

Exploring the Potential of Drones in Coffee Production 

New drone technology has the potential to revolutionize coffee farming from the air. BY VASILEIA FANARIOTISENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT Cover photo by David Henrichs via Unsplash In an ever-evolving technological landscape, coffee producers have begun turning to drones in an attempt to increase efficiency and operations. These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) offer a wide range of […]

4 Cool Cafés to Try Out in Kuala Lumpur

The Malaysian capital is often visited in a hurry, but visitors who take the time to explore will discover a welcoming city, thanks in part to its friendly specialty cafés. BY TANYA NANETTI SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT Photos by Tanya Nanetti Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, is often a stopover on vacations, quickly left behind […]

10 (More) Minutes With Helena Oliviero

5 Cool Cafés Worth a Try in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, one of Thailand’s most fascinating cities, is home to a vibrant specialty-coffee scene, with many cafés and roasteriess often offering locally grown coffee. BY TANYA NANETTI SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT Featured photo by Tim Durgan via Unsplash With a population of 3 million, Chiang Mai is a little (by Asian standards) gem in northern […]

Philadelphia’s Café Don Pedro Seeks to Build Up Small Businesses

A Dominican-owned coffee roasting company called Café Don Pedro recently launched in Philadelphia with ambitions for direct trading and boosting more Latino-owned small businesses throughout its supply and distribution networks….

Coffee News Recap, 2 Feb: Applications open for Australia’s Richest Barista 2024, De’Longhi reports 4.6% revenue increase after La Marzocco move & other stories

Every Friday, Perfect Daily Grind rounds up the top coffee industry news from the previous week. Here are this week’s coffee news stories. The word of the week is: expansion. Mon, 29 Jan AeroPress launches limited-edition Clear Pink brewer. The coffee brewer is made from the same Tritan material used in the standard Clear model. […]

How to Make the Best Coffee at Home By James Hoffmann: Book Review 

James Hoffmann’s new book, How to Make the Best Coffee at Home, is finally out, and is the perfect guide for both professionals and amateurs. BY TANYA NANETTISENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT Photos by Tanya Nanetti James Hoffmann is one of the most recognizable people in the world of specialty coffee. His YouTube channel is both informative […]

10 (More) Minutes With Helena Oliviero

Get Ready for The Barista League’s 2024 Season

The Barista League has announced 12 competitions across four continents. BY J. MARIE CARLANBARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE Photos courtesy of The Barista League When The Barista League announces new events, it’s worth paying attention! This year, the schedule will be organized by geographic location, bringing together coffee people in various communities. At The Barista League in […]

10 Minutes With Helena Oliviero: Part One

We talk with coffee champion and Q Grader Helena Oliveriero about her career, her life in Colombia, and what it means to be a young woman in the male-dominated coffee world.   BY TANYA NANETTISENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT Featured photo courtesy of Helena Oliviero Helena Oliviero, originally from Tuscany, Italy, is 28 years old, but already she […]

Joven and Atucún Join Forces to Empower Young Farmers

The two brands have collaborated to create a unique coffee bar and support young farmers in the coffee and cacao industries. BY VASILEIA FANARIOTISENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT Photos courtesy of Joven Coffee  For their first-of-its-kind bar, Joven Coffee and Atucún Chocolateria combined coffee beans, extracted cocoa butter, and organic cane sugar. Committed to supporting young farmers […]

U.S. Coffee Championships 2023 Denver Qualifiers Reach New Heights

The next group of coffee champions moves on to nationals at the Denver qualifiers. BY KATE VAN PETTENSPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE Photos by Matthew Temple and courtesy of Specialty Coffee Association The high-flying world of U.S. CoffeeChamps competitions reached new heights as coffee professionals flocked to the Denver qualifiers for the 2023 season, hosted in […]

10 (More) Minutes With Helena Oliviero

10 (More) Minutes With Helena Oliviero

minimum dose size?

I use the Hario switch to brew my coffee and am trying to reduce my caffeine consumption. Hence I would like to brew smaller cups of coffee. I am currently using 10g of coffee with 160g of water. (1:16 Ratio) I am wondering if there is a minimum amount of coffee...

10 (More) Minutes With Helena Oliviero

Today we continue our conversation with Helena Oliviero about her coffee career and life on a Colombian finca.


Photos courtesy of Helena Oliviero

Barista Magazine: Let’s talk about living on a Colombian coffee farm, Finca Palma Roja. How do you spend your days? What’s usually happening on a busy coffee farm?

Helena Oliviero: In a traditional Colombian finca, most of the coffee-related jobs—jobs that change throughout the year with the seasons—are still done by men. Fertilizing, planting, harvesting, cleaning with a machete, carrying heavy weights, processing, and drying coffee are just some of the hard manual jobs that must be carried out to make a finca productive. 

Helena and her husabnd sit in a corner atop an enormous pile of unroasted green coffee beans, both wearing brown aprons and smiling.
Helena, despite her experience and qualifications, has experienced sexism in both Europe and Latin America, but that hasnt stopped her from being a difference-making coffee pro.

Traditionally, however, the role of a woman on a farm is more related to the care of the farm itself and the children, cooking, and cleaning. Every day, all year-round, the woman is the first to wake up to make coffee and prepare the wooden cooker. At 8 a.m. it’s time for the cooked breakfast (in this region it’s meat broth with potatoes and/or eggs, and a plate of fried plantains, accompanied by rice mixed with a legume), followed by a short break with something to drink (usually hot chocolate or agua panela, water with cane sugar). At 12 it’s lunchtime with soup, meat or fish, rice, potatoes, yucca, and plantain. Then, after the afternoon snack, around 5 to 6 p.m., it’s dinner time, again with rice, legumes, eggs, or meat.  

What is it like to be a young woman involved in coffee production? Do you find skepticism or mistrust? Do you find attitudes toward women changing?

I don’t see major changes internationally. There are countries where sexism is sneakier and others where it’s evident. I cannot say that I have found a better situation in Europe than in Latin America: Let’s not forget that I have been refused some jobs in Italy as a woman.

Helena hides behind a stack of huge striped bags of unroasted coffee beans in storage. She wears a ponytail and smiles.
Colombia, Helena says, felt like home right away.

A big difference I can see is the approach to children and pregnancy. Besides the law implemented to improve maternity, I find Latin America less stressful to be a parent. In Colombia, its normal for a woman to have a child, and for this child to be integrated into daily life. People around you, including men, tend to be more careful around a child and take small precautions so as not to endanger the kid. 

Besides this, I can tell what a coffee tastes like, and I can say how to change or improve a process. But as a woman, it’s very hard to tell a man what to do; they won’t pay me any attention.  

What are your goals for the next few years, in regard to Finca Palma Roja and your coffee career?

Winning green coffee competitions such as Cup of Excellence or Tierra de Diversidad, and having our coffee positioned in competitions and among the best of Colombia. I also want to strengthen the import of regional coffees and special lots. 

Have you always thought that one day you would leave Italy to move elsewhere? Have you always dreamed of it? 

I grew up as a European. If people ask me I say I’m from Europe, so there are no boundaries in the community. When I was younger I was dreaming about Japan, then I got fascinated by the Latin culture that’s a mixture of reality and magic. I was sure I wouldn’t stay too long in my city because I’ve always been eager to discover more. 

Helena cups unroasted beans to her nose for a sniff test. The beans are being kept in a plastic-lined barrel for storage.
Helena is a Q Grader and Cup Tasters champion. She has her sights set on more titles in the near future.

We’d love to know more about Helena when she’s not involved in the coffee world. What do you love to do? What are your hobbies?

I like hearing stories and learning from people. I like reading, walking, and watching the sea. I love traveling and discovering. And I like to take care of my daughter to make her grow up strong, independent, and empowered. 


Tanya Nanetti (she/her) is a specialty-coffee barista, a traveler, and a dreamer. When she’s not behind the coffee machine (or visiting some hidden corner of the world), she’s busy writing for Coffee Insurrection, a website about specialty coffee that she’s creating along with her boyfriend.

The post 10 (More) Minutes With Helena Oliviero appeared first on Barista Magazine Online.

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