Latte art showdown brews for charitable cause

During the fifth annual Ky-Tn Latte Art Throwdown, judges decide which contestant’s latte art will go to the next round in the competition. The lattes were judged based on the difficulty of pour, contrast, symmetry, aesthetic beauty and color infusion. The event was held on Thursday at Spencer’s Coffee.

Elisabeth Moore

With a cup of steamed milk, a shot of espresso and a steady hand, baristas are able to transform a simple cup of joe into a “latte art” creation.

This “latte art” trend has filtered across the nation as more baristas are learning how to draw on coffee. For the fifth year in a row, Spencer’s Coffee hosted the KY/TN Latte Art Throwdown to showcase this art.

The throwdown on Thursday featured 64 baristas competing in a bracket-style competition to pour the best lattes.

“It’s an event that brings baristas from all over Kentucky and Tennessee to Bowling Green for a night of coffee consumption, competition and camaraderie,” Justin Shepherd, owner and operator of Spencer’s Coffee, said.

During the event, Spencer’s Coffee also raised money for the Center for Courageous Kids, a year-round medical facility in Scottsville through its coffee, beer and pastry sales.

The Center for Courageous Kids helps children from around the word who are living with a variety of life-threatening illnesses and chronic conditions. Since the CCK operates solely on donations, the KY/TN Latte Art Throwdown’s donations will help those children who visit the center.

Shepherd, who is a parent to two children with autism, said he and his wife want to help other families who deal with similar challenges. Shepherd has witnessed the “amazing” work the CCK has done for families like his own.

Alvin Farmer, employee for the Center for Courageous Kids, attended the Throwdown.

“I’m just here for support and I’m glad they are supporting us,” Farmer said. “This is just so cool. I wasn’t expecting this turn out either.”

Outside of the event, a Steamers Seafood mobile food truck dubbed the “S.S. Dinghey” was selling a variety of cuisine and contributing to the cause. All proceeds made by the food truck will additionally be donated to the CCK.

“We are proud to be a part of so many community events benefitting great organizations,” Lindsey McClain, marketing manager for Steamers Seafood, said.

In the competition, the six judges looked at the complexity, color, contrast, aesthetic and overall beauty of each latte art that was created. The judge panel was comprised of coffee shop owners, wholesale directors, previous World Latte Art Champions and the current 2016 International Cold Brew Champion.

Throughout the event, competitors would be eliminated after each round. The first and second bracket featured baristas making a rosetta in their latte.

The third round featured a set of dice that told baristas what ounce cup they would be using, what type of cup they would be using and what type of art they would be making. In the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds, the barista could decide what he or she was making in the latte.

In the final round, Lance Hedrick from Dr. Beans Coffee and Tea Emporium and John Letoto from Greenway Coffee and Tea were the last competitors.

The final competition was best two out of three styled. Letoto won the first round, Hedrick won the second and then Hedrick won the final round and the competition with his heart latte creation.

“In the end, though, it’s not just about coffee, not just about charity,” Shepherd said on the Spencer’s Coffee website. “It’s about community. No matter what side of the counter we’re on, no matter where we live or what we do, we’re in this together.”

Reporter Elisabeth Moore can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @emoore938.