Arrrhhhgggg! This is one of those times I wish I could be in 5 places at once! I was super bummed to miss this awesome event hosted by Single Origin Roasters in Sydney, Australia, earlier this month: The La Marzocco Barista Throwdown was the biggest latte art competition Sydney has seen thus far, with 36 competing baristas, and more than 300 spectators. That’s sick!
Cafes and roasters participating were Mecca, Campos, Allpress, Tobys, Single Origin Roasters, White Horse, The Baron, The Morrison, Sample, Bread & Circus, Coffee Brothers, Paramount Coffee Project, Fleetwood Macchiato, and more.
(Can we take a moment to sit in awe and silence over the genius of the name Fleetwood Macchiato? OK, thanks.)
This competition was totally nuts in the best possible way. The prize? A La Marzocco GS/3 Paddle espresso machine. The emcee? Michael Phillips, 2010 World Barista Champion, who flew all the way from Los Angeles to join his pals from Single O. The judges were a fierce bunch, as well: Cup Tasting Champion Elisha Mauger, La Marzocco General Manager Tom Beaumont, H.A. Bennett QC and Latte Art Championships judge Brent Williams, along with figures from outside the coffee industry such as 4Pines Head Brewer Andrew Tweddell and food writers Michael Shafran and Elizabeth Meryment.
I love the format, too: A spin of a wheel would determine what the competitors would pour: heart or swan? Tulip, rosetta, or multi-art?
In the cutthroat (and endlessly entertaining) head-to-head contest, the initial 36 was cut to 18. Then 18 become 6, and then 6 became 3: Luke Barrett from Whitehorse, Matt Lakajeb from Coffee Brothers and Jibbi Rawirat T. from Pablo & Rusty’s were determined as the final baristas playing for that sweet prize (and enormous bragging rights, of course).
Luke took third place. Then it was between Jibbi and Mike. A spin of the wheel dictated the pours, and Jibbi turned in a double-headed swan, while Matt wowed judges with his stepped tulip. In the end, however, it was Jibbi who won top honors.
The throwdown wasn’t the only game in town that night either—side challenges included the pouring-into-weird-things contest, dubbed by the Aussies “Tools of Latte Art Destruction” which found competitors pouring into items including a growler, a beer bottle, and a green bean tray. Elsewhere, Dan Yee and Matt Perger went head-to-head in a drinking/pouring competition.
“With food supplied by Bronte’s Three Blue Ducks, beer by 4Pines and major sponsors—La Marzocco, Cafetto, Biopak, H.A. Bennetts and Origin Traders—making the night possible, the LaMarzocco Throwdown, or ‘Throw At Single O’, was a great night out for the Sydney coffee community,” says Emma Cohen of Single Origin.
Sounds so awesome. I’m already dreaming of ways I can be there next time.