Latte Art – The Backstory

7 01 2011

As the social media professional for Coffee Fest Shows, I’ve been fortunate the last 14 months to visit with many, many baristas and coffee professionals. Everytime I pop into a new coffeeshop, I ask the baristas if they will be competing in Coffee Fest’s Latte Art Competitions. Half the time, the baristas know what this competition is and I get an answer along the lines of

Oh I’m not good enough for that

or a reply like this

Yeah, I’m not much into that latte art competing

Here’s the backstory on why Latte Art competitions matter.

David Heilbrunn, others and I sat down with the Blenz Coffee franchisee from Tokyo the Monday after Coffee Fest Seattle in 2010. Near the end of the conversation, David asked the gentleman, who owns about eight Blenz Coffee stores in Tokyo, if he knew why Latte Art Competitions began.

The whole intent behind Latte Art competitions is to “Raise The Bar” of preparing and serving good coffee.


If customers get a great tasting latte with a good design on the top, it elevates the customer experience from that shop. It elevates the reputation of the coffeeshop, and the barista, with the customer base.

This coffeeshop, enjoying strong customer rapport, then forces other coffeeshops around it to start matching the level of expectation.

It forces other baristas to increase their knowledge of the craft, building a stronger coffee culture in the community.

It forces the barista practicing the art, to learn more about the industry and to practice their skills, creating a higher level of professionalism.

The customer enjoys a greater dialogue about what makes great coffee, becoming a quality coffee ambassador.

Personally, as a former chef, I don’t understand why a barista wouldn’t take advantage of this, especially when they are only competing with 63 other baristas in a fun environment, and trying to grab a 1st place purse of $2500. If I was a barista, competing would increase my skills and give me a shot at a big chunk of Christmas change.

I’ve been talking with Tom at Water Avenue Coffee the past month, about the competition. He keeps saying he needs to do it. He’s arguably one of the finest baristas in Portland OR, and I know a $2500 prize would buy some fancy bicycle component for his life passion of cycling.

If you’re a barista of six months or years, I’d love to see you up doing your best in Chicago next month!

Registrations close on Monday – You can register here!





Water Avenue Coffee & the Infamous “OMFG Tweet”

10 10 2010

This past week I had the pleasure of witnessing my friends at Water Avenue Coffee dominate the Portland coffee scene with consumers.

Friday, Oct 8th, 2010, the Portland YWCA hosted an event in Pioneer Square, bringing together fifteen coffee roasters for the public to sample. Roasters ranged from small one-person operations to world-wide giants like Starbucks. For a $5 donation, you got a small cup of green coffee beans to vote on your favorite roastery.

I’ve been witness to the creation, birth and early growth of Water Avenue Coffee. Frankly, everything about this organization is ‘par excellence’. The brain-child of Matt Milletto, Bruce Milletto and Brandon Smyth, WAC offers some of the most deftly roasted coffees, barista skills and environment in the country. The entire crew at WAC, part of the larger organization of Bellissimo CoffeeInfo Group and American Barista Coffee School, have educated and befriended this old chef as I journey deeper into the world of specialty coffee.

The infamous “OMFG Tweet” happened shortly after WAC officially opened its doors. Head Roaster Brandon Smyth had offered me one of the first cups of Oak Barrel Aged Sumatra, a coffee he roasts by storing green Sumatra beans in aged old oak wine barrels for two weeks and then roasting. Literally, this was the finest cup of coffee I’ve ever tasted.

I tweeted out my joy over four Twitter accounts: @JeffreyJKingman and @chalkboarder (both mine), @CoffeeFestShow (client Coffee Fest Tradeshow), and in my excitement, also from Dessert Professional Magazine’s Twitter account @dessertpro.

Within two hours, I received a phone call from the publisher of Dessert Professional Magazine. “You have to take that “OMFG tweet” down – we’re getting complaints.”

Totally embarressed by causing a client consternation, I immediately removed it from their account history and wrote a long apology, dispersed widely through the web.

Oak Barrel Aged Sumatra is still my favorite coffee. Maybe soon, Brandon will teach me how to roast my own.





Roasters Roundtable at Coffee Fest NYC March 6

14 02 2010

Coffee Fest is a client of Chalkboarder – the company I manage as CEO. Some of my postings here at Leaf & Berry will be content regarding Coffee Fest. I’ll always let you know at the beginning of those particular posts.

Roasters Roundtable

Roast Magazine

5:00pm-6:00pm

Have questions or concerns about roasting? Perhaps you have solutions to pressing roast problems that you’d like to share with your peers. Or maybe you just want to create community with other roasters and find out what’s happening in their neck of the woods. Whatever your roasting need, you’re sure to fill it at the Roasters’ Speakeasy at Coffee Fest Chicago. Sponsored by Roast Magazine, this event offers a casual roundtable forum for roasters of all skill levels and experience. Come share your concerns, questions and solutions with your peers in a comfortable, laid-back atmosphere that allows you to speak easily and openly about roasting.





Hands-On Free Pour Latte Art Training Workshop at Coffee Fest NYC March 6

14 02 2010

Coffee Fest is a client of Chalkboarder – the company I manage as CEO. Some of my postings here at Leaf & Berry will be content regarding Coffee Fest. I’ll always let you know at the beginning of those particular posts.

Hands-On Free Pour Latte Art Training Workshop

Chris DeFerio – The Coffee Institute & Ellie Matuszak

3:00pm-5:00pm

“Deferio, two time Millrock champion, and Matuszak will be teaching five hands-on classes throughout the weekend, including two on Friday and Saturday and one Advanced class ($290) on Sunday. Class size limited to 10. Pre-registration required.”





Coffee Cupping Workshop for Coffee Retailers at Coffee Fest NYC March 6

14 02 2010

Coffee Fest is a client of Chalkboarder – the company I manage as CEO. Some of my postings here at Leaf & Berry will be content regarding Coffee Fest. I’ll always let you know at the beginning of those particular posts.

Coffee Cupping Workshop for Coffee Retailers

Phil Beattie – Dillanos Coffee Roasters

2:45pm-4:15pm

Learn how to professionally “cup” coffee. Learn to use all of your senses to evaluate the nuances and characteristics of different blends and growing regions. Phil Beattie (your cupping presenter) is Roast Master for Dillanos Coffee Roasters, Sumner, Wa. Dillanos is one of the largest specialty coffee micro roasters in the Northwest with over 700 customers from coast-to-coast. From cupping and selecting the green coffees, to managing the roasting production, Phil is nationally recognized for his expertise in every step. He is an active member of the Roasters Guild, and a frequent author in specialty coffee publications as well as serving on the editorial advisory board of Roast Magazine. Phil has served as a jury member for the International Cup of Excellence competition. *Pre-registration required.





Gelato Training Workshop at Coffee Fest NYC March 6

14 02 2010

Coffee Fest is a client of Chalkboarder – the company I manage as CEO. Some of my postings here at Leaf & Berry will be content regarding Coffee Fest. I’ll always let you know at the beginning of those particular posts.

Gelato Training Workshop

Bravo – Nuova Simonelli

2:00pm-4:00pm

Coffee Fest is pleased to present this gelato training workshop, presented in an innovative and dynamic classroom environment designed to simulate a state-of-the-art gelato laboratory. The laboratory includes the latest items such as gelato machines, pasteurizers, blast freezers, refrigerated display cabinets, molds and raw ingredients. Your distinguished instructors are among the world’s most experienced professionals in the field of gelato preparation, and they travel to Seattle from Europe to conduct this workshop that will provide the most useful practical advice on technology and recipes to help produce the highest-quality gelato and frozen desserts to ensure the entrepreneur’s success in the gelato business.
The workshop is designed for beginners and professionals who are passionate and ready to taste success. It includes hands-on tasks and real-world scenarios to give a valuable and practical experience. The seminar also will focus on the qualitative aspects of frozen dessert preparation including nutrition and sanitation. Students are encouraged to explore their own style and creativity under the guidance of our experienced instructors. There is also a general education component built into the program that is designed to provide a solid theoretical foundation.
Whether you want to learn a new profession or just improve your skills, this program will help you achieve your goals. In just a matter of hours, you will be making and decorating the most amazing frozen desserts you have ever seen. The scope of topics covered by the program focuses on all stages of production, store operation and theory. *pre-registration required.
Each three-hour session will cover:
• Basic theory on gelato, sorbets, ice cream and frozen custard
• Formulating and refining recipes
• Hands-on production and procedures
• Decoration
• Serving and sales techniques
• Communication and marketing strategies
• Concept development and business plans “





Hands-On Barista Training at Coffee Fest NYC March 6

14 02 2010

Coffee Fest is a client of Chalkboarder – the company I manage as CEO. Some of my postings here at Leaf & Berry will be content regarding Coffee Fest. I’ll always let you know at the beginning of those particular posts.

Hands-On Barista Training

International Academy of Specialty Coffee

1:30pm-6:00pm

Coffee Fest, together with the popular three-day Specialty Coffee Business Seminar key presenters, is proud to present the first premier international professional Hands-On Barista Training program. Since 1992, this success-building instruction team has enriched the personal and business lives of more than 2,000 Coffee Fest Specialty Coffee Business Seminar graduates. Now this powerful teaching team has paired up to provide an affordable, quality, hands-on training workshop. Classes are small: four per training station, six stations and three carts. *additional fee and pre-registration required. Each 4.5-hour session includes: • Workbook • Orientation • Shots and grind • Steaming milk • Drink building