Lucie Loves... Lifestyle // Latte art smackdown 2016 at Artisan Coffee

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James, our Men’s & Lifestyle Editor was asked to co-judge this year’s ‘Latte Art Smackdown’ competition held at Artisan Coffee in Ealing. Here he writes about the event, and what it was like to be the Simon Cowell of the panel!

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Stepping off the usually quiet suburban high street into the hustle and bustle of my local coffee shop, I was transported into what felt like a venue found only in Shoreditch. 

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In addition to the regular crowd of thirty-something year old yummy mummies – and the professionals using the space as their very own office, complete with obligatory MacBook and flat white – were late teen hipsters, taking advantage of the free beers and coffee-infused cocktails.

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As well as a host of young baristas, all hoping to battle it out to the top position of the second annual ‘Latte Art Smackdown’ competition, held at Artisan Coffee in Ealing, West London and organised by Make It Ealing.

I was excited to have been asked to co-judge the competition, as I’d heard so many positive comments about the previous year. It seems others had also heard good things about it too, as there were more Baristas entering for the 2016 challenge. Not only was the title up for grabs but also cash prizes and a trophy! A ‘money can’t buy’ Ealing Coffee Fest Milk Jug 2016.

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I was pleased to see that the defending champion, Federico from Electric Coffee Co. had entered and was keen to keep the title. Things were surely going to get fierce!

  • 1st prize: £350 and the coveted ‘Ealing Coffee Fest milk jug 2016’
  • 2nd prize: £100
  • 3rd prize: £50

Before attending, I had no idea that Latte Art was such a serious thing in the coffee world. I was blown away by the talent, time and precision put into it.

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I was joined on the judging panel by Emma Hawley, Tom Mullins and Regine – all very lovely – and very experienced in this industry. What knowledge I lacked in coffee I sure made up for from a consumers point of view, and like to think I have an eye for design and nice things. 21 Baristas entered the competition with entries from the local area, and one who travelled in as far as Kent!

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Round 1 – Baristas were asked to produce a Latte within four minutes with one design on it: the Rosetta. They could make two coffees and select their best effort. The judges would then mark each coffee individually out of forty marks. I’d like to state it here that the judges kept their scoring private to make it as fair as possible. At the end of the first round, the top 16 were then invited to take part in the next round, which would see Barista V Barista!

It was a shame to see nerves get the better of some of the Baristas and I urge anyone who took part and didn’t make it past the first round to enter for next year.

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Round 2 – Each Barista was asked to make a Latte with the design of a love heart on top. The judges would then simply point at the one coffee – presented to them at the judges table – that they thought was the best.

 We were looking for shape, colour, symmetry and the cleanness of lines/edges.

The winners of this round would then go through to the semi-finals, which would see the Baristas creating their best love heart, and as before, the judges would, in silence, select their favourite. The judges were now reduced to three, myself, Tomand Regine and, in the interest of fairness, we were blindfolded to ensure there were no ties.

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It was difficult comparing coffees. Looking the frothy art and having to make a decision, especially when both were looking exquisite, and good enough to drink (with a pastry of course!) But at times I could hear myself thinking so loudly, so quickly, about which one was the obvious winner!  

The atmosphere in the room was electric – the silence could be cut with a knife. All in all, it received a very supportive reception from the Ealing residents and businesses with contenders, who all stayed to the very end.

With last year’s champion now in third place it was down to Ellie and Dean and all three judges voted unanimously in favour of …

Winners and runners up

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  • 1st Place – Dean from Artisan Coffee203 Upper Richmond Road, London SW15 6SG
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