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417 Latte Art Throwdown was a success

The first 417 Latte Art Throwdown competition was a big hit last night!  Thirteen baristas representing 7 different coffee shops competed for the title of best latte artist in the Springfield area.

The event was hosted by The Coffee Ethic in downtown Springfield, Missouri, and was sponsored by PT’s Coffee, a coffee roaster out of Topeka, Kansas, and Brown Derby.  Several coffee shops in the area, including Dancing Mule Coffee, The Hub Bikes and Beans, and Hebrews Coffee, came together to create an event that supported the local coffee community and gave the baristas a chance to show off their skills.  Plans are in the works to host future events at the other coffee cafes in Springfield as well.

Dancing Mule Coffee and Hebrews Coffee had the most entrants with 3 baristas each.  The Hub had two contestants, the Mudhouse sent one barista down the street to compete, and there was also a contestant from Latte Land in Kansas City.  The Coffee Ethic and Kaldi’s Coffee rounded out the entries.  Hosting the event was Tom Billionis, one of the owners of The Coffee Ethic, and the judges were Teresa Blondo of the Springfield Foodie website, Taylor Baldwin, and John Vaughan of our own 417Coffee.  A good sized crowd of at least 30 people was in attendance to watch and cheer as well.

The night began with a warm up round to give all the contestants time to work on the machine and get a feel for the equipment while the judges did a sample run to make sure they understood all of the criteria.  Then the contest began in earnest.  Each contestant had 3 minutes behind the machine, could pull as many espresso shots as they needed, but only got one picture of milk to steam and pour.  As each entry was produced, a photo was taken and the cup was taken to the judging table and ranked based on 4 criteria that took into consideration the balance and symetry of the art, the color and definition of the image, the use of the cup in the presentation, and the overall impression of the latte art.

At the end of the first round after all 13 contestants had submitted their entries, 4 contestants, representing Latte Land in Kansas City, the Coffee Ethic, The Hub, and Hebrews Coffee, were moved to the final round.  Each finalist made one final entry to be judged.  After the numbers were tallied, the winners in order were:  Dave from The Coffee Ethic in first place, Joe from The Hub in second place, and Kevin from Hebrews Coffee in third.  Latte Land’s first entry won the first round, but the final round entry didn’t place in the top 3.

The winner — David Soper — received one half of the entry fees, totaling a whopping $32.50.  The other half of the entry fees will be donated to coffee charity Coffee Kids.  All in all, the event was a huge success.  Photos of the event can be found at the 417Coffee Flickr site and at SpringfieldFoodie’s Facebook page.

Keep reading 417Coffee and we’ll keep you posted as more local coffee events and barista competitions are announced.