Throwdown Madness in… Sweden?

This is what happens when you take two boys from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, drop them in Gothenburg, Sweden, during one of the most creative barista competition events in the world, work them like crazy as volunteers to make the event go smoothly, and then comp their drinks at the final party, the Gala Dinner. THIS, my friends, is what happens…

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Scott Lucey and Justin Teisl, both crazy good latte artists and Millrock Latte Art Comp vets, decided after around drink #16 that maybe we should have a latte art throwdown at the Gala Dinner! See, after we’d eaten, and after we’d heard the announcement that Sweden was the 2007 NBC Champion Team (go Sweden!), and after we’d danced and danced, all former and current WBC Champs in attendance — James, Tim, Martin, Troels, and Klaus — headed for the La Marzocco GB5 to demo their champion skills. And then it occurred to Lucey and Justin and Chris Owens and M’Lissa: Perfect time for a latte art throwdown!

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Judges were determined: me, Klaus and Andreas from Solberg & Hansen. The machine, of course, was a beauty, but man, did the cups the competitors had to use suck. But amazing baristas that they are, this international crowd made due, and some beautiful drinks came down the line.

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All competitors threw in 20 Swedish Kroner (about $3.50) to enter the competition (hey! it was the end of the Nordic Barista Cup and we were all broke, for goodness sake!). With about 20 competitors, it was a nice little sum of money that was added to the more than $10,000 raised earlier in the day by the teams to build a school in Nicaragua.

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You know the drill: each competitor had one shot, one pour. Drinks were brought to me, Andreas and Klaus, and we rated them on a scale of 1 to 10. Done and done. I mentioned the crappy cups they had to use: the cups were to blame for many great latte artists — such as Teisl and Emma, Sweden’s current Beige Champion — overshooting their milk. (Or you know, it could have been the booze…)

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People were pretty stoked to find out that not only was Scott Lucey good at stomping around on tabletops at a fancy restaurant, but he could also pour pretty damn good latte art. In the end, Lucey was the winner.

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When it was over, it was really over. As in, the restaurant kicked us out and probably hoped we would never return. It was only then that we realized it was 3 a.m., and our throwdown had begun at 1:30 a.m. Whoa nelly.

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Klaus, of course, wanted to keep partying, and so off he and his Coffee Collective bunch went to wreak havoc at Linus’ parents house. The results of their antics were documented photographically in the morning:

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The rest of us were out for the count, heady with the realization that having boys from Wisconsin at future Nordic Barista Cups is a must.

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