blog from the ceo & superbarista of phoenix coffee, home of the best baristas in cleveland, ohio

Saturday, April 18, 2009

While the WBC goes on in Atlanta, we're throwing down latte art here in Cleveland.

I love the barista smacktalk. I love that Courtenay sent out an invitation to our latte art throwdown that said "There will only be one champion". It's particularly funny given that this same weekend, at about the same time, the best baristas in the world are competing for the title of World Barista Champion in Atlanta, Georgia. The finalists (who will be competing tomorrow) are as follows:


Here is the Barista Mag blog

Sammy Piccolo has made it to the finals for several years, five I think! It seems like he probably deserves to win some year soon. And I am certainly rooting for Mike Phillips, I got to work with him in helping to organize the Great Lakes Barista Jam in Chicago last year, and it was a real pleasure. Mike is a humble, intelligent and passionate barista and I would really enjoy seeing him win.

Meanwhile, back here in Cleveland, the Phoenix baristas gathered at our West 9th cafe. Many actually showed up early to practice (how rare is that for a Phoenix barista to show up EARLY?) The patio was full of bicycles and baristas, and the cafe filled up with friendly folks interested in seeing and tasting the artistic lattes. George Nemeth from was updating our "leader" board, with the scores, and Dawn Andrews (our roastery maven) and Paulius Nasvytis, owner of the Velvet Tango Room were our esteemed judges. Dawn and Paulius were judging four different categories... Balance & Symmetry, Color (& contrast), Distribution and Originality/Creativity. Each barista had five minutes on the machine, which is a very short time for the barista to familiarize him or herself with the particular grinder, group heads and steam wands. Most baristas poured multiple drinks and then chose the prettiest one to present to the judges.

David Perelman-Hall of Exceptional Light Photography photographed the drinks

But since I don't have those images yet, I will post a few images that I took towards the end of the throwdown.

Julie Hutchison, owner of our Lakewood cafe, took first place. She won herself a Reg Barber tamper, a $25 gift card from the Velvet Tango Room, a t-shirt and some chocolate. Stephen Shaum, from West 9th, took second. He won a pound of Puerto Rican Selecto, a $25 gift card from the Velvet Tango Room, a t-shirt and some chocolate. Then there was a tie for third place between Jake Stofan from the Lakewood store and Wes Johansen from our East 9th cafe. I do have pictures of these two pours.

Here was Jake's

And here was Wes'

So Wes won the third place prize of the Velvet Tango Room gift certificate, as well as the other goodies, that Jake also got, t-shirt & chocolate.
Interestingly enough, they both used a bit of half & half... Jake used a blend of half& half and whole milk, and Wes used 100% half&half, which helps with definition, as you can see. Wes has also developed this interesting swirling technique that he uses as he introduces the milk that is pretty cool. And his most recent theory is that the freshness of the crema is more important than the texture of the milk. So he brews his espresso, I think, after he textures his milk. Interesting.
A few short months ago, Wes and I were neck-in-neck in terms of our latte art skills, or at least that's what I thought. That's why I would always challenge him to impromptu throwdowns at the stores, because I felt that I could probably win. As you may be able to tell, he has really pulled ahead of me. I have to admit, I'm steamed. As in motivated. How did he get so much better so quickly? OK, granted, he has been working at a cafe full time and I have only been working one or two shifts a week on bar, so I do feel quite rusty when it comes time to pour. But I have got to hand it to him for perfecting his craft and really making his smacktalk something of substance, after all.
Oh, and by the way, Carl Jones says he was robbed of his points (he did score a bit low) and he demands a rematch sometime in the next six months (Dawn, don't worry, Carl is kidding).
After the throwdown, I got to ride my bike home (after fixing a nasty flat, involving a trip to Shaker Cycle for a new tire, thank you Steve Bedford) and enjoy the first really sunny, warm day we have had this spring. It was glorious. I think I am going to ride my bike again tomorrow for the coffee tasting at W9th!


Blogger Mandy Maria said...

Wow. Its cool that there are competitions for baristas, I never thought about it before. Good post.

7:20 AM, September 12, 2009  
Blogger hell-on-a-stick said...

very interesting. I will follow this blog. I am very curious to know if you might have information, also, regarding open mic/poetry readings in the area. My digging into the google data has been woefully failureific. :) I am new to the cleveland area, lakewood to be precise, I come from Chicago by way of Denver, by way of Naples, by way of Springfield, by way of Baltimore and so on. (not to tire you) Thank you for creating such an intelligent review.

4:10 PM, November 25, 2009  
Anonymous apcalis oral jelly said...

I can't believe that it is coffee..Its so beautiful art..keep posting such more designs over coffee..

generic viagra

4:06 AM, June 22, 2011  
Anonymous capoeira said...

It looks like a piece of art rather than a cup of coffee.

4:17 PM, July 27, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hogan Shoes From studs and buckles to glitter and animal print shoes, high heel shoes on sale store has it all. What are you waiting for?
Franklin Marshall Sale The perfect pair of shoes await you at
Dolce & Gabbana Sunglasses

12:49 AM, March 08, 2012  
Anonymous Shane Lapan said...

In the other country, they are conducting competitions for baristas, and I'm enjoying it while watching them on TV, I wish I could try to do that also so that my espresso can be more tasty.

12:20 AM, December 28, 2012  
Blogger khalid mahmood said...

Nice Coffee Styles.

10:45 AM, February 21, 2013  

Post a Comment

<< Home