A latte creativity will be on display this month as local baristas compete for the title of Santa Barbara’s best drink designer.
The Santa Barbara Coffeeshop Examiner blog is calling for all local latte artists to submit photos of their espresso-based artwork online as part of the publication’s first annual latte art contest. Designs are made by artfully combining espresso and steamed milk to form pictures on the surface of the coffee drinks.
According to Tal Benami, the manager of Java Jones Coffeehouse in Isla Vista, there are two main methods of creating latte artwork.
“One way is actually creating a milk and foam consistency called the pour method, where you can pour directly over espresso and then you create the art while you’re pouring without any tools,” Benami said. “The other way is you pour it and use toothpicks or similar tools to create the designs. It takes a little longer, but the art can be a little more intricate.”
Contest creator and self-described beverage enthusiast Jeremy Nisen said he conceived of the contest as a fun way for Santa Barbara baristas to show off their considerable talent.
“This is the first one, and I thought it would be a really cool idea,” Nisen said. “I think people are always surprised when they order their drinks and get gifted with this artwork.”
The top three contestants in the competition will be featured in an Examiner article and receive art books valued at hundreds of dollars. Participants are allowed to enter up to three different photos, which will be judged individually, but can win for only one picture.
The Examiner will publish all artwork entries online, with credit given to the contestant and their affiliated coffee shop.
Alec Henken, a barista at Caje in Isla Vista, said competition also includes elements outside of the artwork itself.
“It is all about technique and presentation,” Henken said. “A lot of the time they will bring fancy mugs and set up the tables.”
Prospective contestants in the first annual “Great Santa Barbara Latte Art Contest” may submit their work by emailing pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by arranging to meet with contest representatives. Examiner readers will judge the contest and determine a winner in June.