One thing that I really wish I was better at in the coffee world is Latte Art. I am always amazed at how beautiful it can be. It has really increased in popularity and seems to be a goal of every new Barista whether amateur or professional to create astonishing images. It is so popular there are even forums just about Latte Art, and the competitions are astounding.
At every major coffee festival there seems to be a Latte Art competition. The Grand prize for instance, at the upcoming Coffee Fest in New York is $2500 to the winner. Certainly not a small prize, but it does take a lot of talent to win. There are judges and the competition is very intense.
There is also training available at some of the Barista Schools to help you improve your skills and to prepare you for the competition. Not only are there regional competitions but there is also a world championship. At all of the contests there are actually certified judges that score each competitor. I have been involved in Barista competitions before where employees of the coffee shops I ran have competed and I can tell you first hand the stress level is very high for the competitors. The trained judges are very thorough and also very fair.
We have also had amateur Latte Art video competitions at Whole Latte Love. The response has always been spectacular. The quality of the art, and the variety of designs that we get are beautiful. We also have David Schomer's instructional video for sale on our website. He is credited with starting the Latte Art revolution in the US.
This phenomenon has gone worldwide in a short amount of time. A friend of mine in the coffee industry is involved with food shows featuring Latte Art competitions at places around the globe including China, Korea and the United States. It is called The Ultimate Barista Championship.
You can find many different competitions to enter on a local, national and global level. These events are often sponsored and supported by equipment manufacturers. They too are judged by professionals and if the equipment is good enough they are allowed to sponsor and have their name attached to the event. For instance, the World latte Art Championship is sponsored by Dalla Corte Espresso Machines. It is a machine we sell and I am totally infatuated by the machine. The manufacturers that have their equipment chosen for these events are almost as happy as the competition winners. We also sell the Mahlkonig K 30 Twin Espresso Grinder which is an official grinder of the World Barista Championship.
I think this is one of the coolest parts of the coffee industry, the competitions. To see some of the spectacular art Google “Latte Art Photos”, you may be astounded at some of the resulting images and be inspired to try making your own at home. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right away as it does take some skill and practice. The nice thing is you won’t have the pressure of being judged in a competition. All you need to worry about is having some fun.