Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Crafting the Perfect Rosetta: Results from the Showdown

The phrase ‘Latte art competition’ sounds a trifle esoteric, but those who have tried their hand at creating what is known as a rosetta know how difficult it can be.  A rosetta is the fern or tree shaped design seen atop lattes poured by only the most passionate and skilled baristas. Pouring good latte art is almost like throwing pots. Remember the feeling you had as you watched the potter pull up the sides of the vessel, shape it, trim it?  For me and many others, it was the distinct feeling of somehow naturally possessing the ability to throw a pot.  “OK, now let me do it.”  Flop. Fail.

Simultaneously admired and taken for granted by the general public, a rosetta is a very good indicator of the barista’s skill level when it comes to milk steaming, portioning, work flow, and extraction.  What better way to establish one’s spot on the specialty coffee food chain than a latte art competition?

Baristas and coffee enthusiasts from around the Triangle gathered at Cafe Helios last Thursday night to compete in Thursday Night Throwdown, a latte art competition sponsored by Counter Culture Coffee.  The night started off with longtime Cafe Helios employee, Seth Lester, who by his own admission became more nervous than he had anticipated.  Nerves make the competition interesting.  As with many sporting events, having a clear mind and a steady hand can make all the difference.  The looks of resignation and defeat on the faces of many of the competitors as they handed off their lattes to the judges clearly stated that nerves had gotten the better of them. The lattes were judged on symmetry, contrast and definition, utilization of space, and overall impression.  The scores ranged from a humble low of 8, to the winning score of 29.

In the end, there were 13 competitors from varying skill levels most of whomproduced fine examples despite nervousness experienced by even the most outgoing.  The winner, Michael Harwood of Caffe Driade, recieved $65.00 in prize money plus several pounds of Counter Culture’s finest and a Cafe Helios t-shirt.

Join the Counter Culture crew at The Busy Bee on the 17th of this month for another Thursday Night Throwdown.


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