“Throw Down Under”: Kookaburra’s first latte art competition

By Courtney Cox | gargoyle@flagler.edu 

On October 6, The Kookaburra hosted their first “Throw Down Under” latte art competition. Contestants came from as far as Miami, Florida, to compete. The latte art was judged by a panel of three coffee connoisseurs, two of whom have or had their own coffee shops, and one who simply enjoys the latte art as much as drinking it. The winner took home $350 in cash as well as a large gift basket.

Latte art draws in a “niche crowd,” said A. J. Viola, one of three latte art judges for that night. On October 6, The Kookaburra Roastery hosted their first latte art competition. The event went from 7 to 10 p.m. and was free to the public.
Kookaburra employees play a joke on one of the Kookaburra owners, Spencer Hooker, by placing a funny picture of him on the judges table. The letters “A” and “B” were marked on the table as place settings for each competitor to set their finished latte on.
A contestant makes their artistic pour. Viola said that he looks for any defects in the foam when he judges.
The tension gets high as the judges make their decision on which pour looks best. As a judge, Viola looks for symmetry, contrast, use of space, the level of difficulty and the “general overall impression,” he said.
The judges hide behind paper so they don’t see who poured the latte (left image). Then judges, Joey Difato (left), Weaver (middle) and Viola (right) looked over the lattes for their final decision (right image).
The crowd gives a three-two-one countdown for the judges to decide the winner. Immediately following the countdown, the judges pointed to their personal favorite.
Courtney Olson (right), a Flagler College student and manager at Relámpago Coffee Lab, competes in one of the first rounds of the competition. This was Olson’s first time competing and she said that it was just good to represent her company name. Olson ended up winning in this round.
A latte artist carries his masterpiece to the judges table while trying not to spill. “It’s a healthy amount of competition, but it’s fun competition,” said Gabriele Osterhouse, one of the assistant managers for the Kookaburra.
 Even the dogs couldn’t resist the coffee excitement. During the competitions, the crowd cheered loudly and showed love to their favorite competitors.
Kookaburra employees hand out an assortment of drinks and pastry products. They sold a selection of coffee, wine, craft beers and kombucha. Tips were also welcomed.
“It’s just a fun way for baristas to come together in a friendly competition,” Weaver said.
Competition steams up in the final rounds. The audience and competitors were able to keep up with the winning brackets by going onto www.challonge.com during the event.
Slow and steady wins the race. The ounce sizes decreased as the final round neared.
The judges decide who takes home the gold for best latte art. The top three competitors all received a gift basket for their talents and the winner received $350 in cash on top of that.
Jessica Zeisler holds her winning masterpiece. This was the second latte art competition she’s won. “I think I’ll keep competing for a long time,” Zeisler said.
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