Foam fight: Latte art throwdown brings the buzz

Foam fight: Latte art throwdown brings the buzz
Photo by Louise Wateridge

It is a battle of the baristas!

New York’s best coffee art creators are foaming at the mouth to compete in a no-holds barred latte art competition at the Coffee and Tea Festival New York City in Greenpoint on March 19. The 32 competitors will use milk and espresso to form flowers, portraits, and artsy swirls in their cups, despite a series of challenges designed to give them the jitters, a competition organizer said.

“The size of the cups might change for example, or you will have to pour a latte from several feet up into a cup on the ground, so you have to be versatile,” said Shaak Shatursun, of Cafe Grumpy, the sponsor of the event.

The roughly 90-minute competition will have multiple one-on-one rounds, narrowing down the coffee field to a final emperor of espresso. The hot pouring action will be projected onto a large screen, so audience members can get a close look at the results at the same time as the judges.

The competition’s three judges will score the competitors based on creativity and on the technical aspects of their work, including how crisply their foamed milk contrasts with the espresso, Shatursun said.

Winning the competition has its perks — first place prize is $500, and second place is a trove of caffeine-loaded goods from festival vendors.

One competitor, a manager at Cafe Grumpy’s Grand Central Terminal location, said he will roast the competition with his consistency.

“I’ve been working on making it really symmetrical and adding a lot of layers — it’s not really something specifically fancy, just working on the perfect tulip,” said Alex Kim.

The foam feud is part of a two-day festival of caffeinated beverages, with demonstrations, seminars, and tastings from 60 vendors.

Those who watch the latte throwdown can keep up their coffee consumption by slurping down the works of art once they have been judged, Shatursen said.

“We hate to throw them out, so if anyone wants to drink them they are up for grabs,” he said.

The Coffee and Tea Festival New York City’s Latte Art Throwdown at Brooklyn Expo Center [72 Noble St. at Franklin Street in Greenpoint, (631) 940–7290, www.coffeeandteafestival.com/nyc]. March 19 at 1 pm. $25. Festival lasts March 19–20, noon–6 pm.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at dlync[email protected]local.com.
Roasting the competition: Cafe Grumpy barista and Latte Art Throwdown competitor Alex Kim shows off one of his works.
Photo by Louise Wateridge