Ladies and gentlemen, please place your bets.
John Chris and I arrived at the Vancouver Library around 12:45pm, 15 minutes before the scheduled start of the final round of the Blenz hosted Latte Art Competition. We grabbed some pizza from the flying wedge while Blenz and co were organizing the showdown.
While we were eating I recognized Hiroshi Sawada mingling around amongst the crowd. I had only ever seen him in photographs on other blogs, but I was pretty sure it was him. We went over and said our Kanitchiwa’s while introducing ourselves, and then sat back down. Hiroshi just won the Milrock Latte Art Competition at coffee fest a few weeks earlier in Seattle – so you could say the competition had just been upped. As far as I know he actually came down from Japan just to compete in these latte art contests.
Hiroshi was as nice and enjoyable a fellow as his pours were, I might add.
The contest brought with it a new judge in Danny from ECM, replacing Arthur from Wicked Cafe, but for the most part the main characters stayed the same. Same rules as well – 5 minutes of practice, and 5 minutes of latte art’ing – only this time the winner gets to go to a place called Japan.
I was the first to go of the crema trio, and at the time the highest score was 113. ’I can beat that’, I said to myself – and away I poured.
Ha – Okay – so maybe I can’t beat that… I walked away with a 94, and no ticket to Japan. I had an idea to split the shots into 2 different cups and then steam enough milk to pour both at the same time. This would technically allow me to pour more drinks in the same amount of time – Not bad right? Right.
I tried this out only for my last pour, but unfortunately in my haste to finish on time I dosed way too little coffee into the portafilter and the espresso hit 2 oz in about 7 seconds – leaving me with the task of pouring into a liquid equivalent to a french press. If you’ve ever tried pouring into something more watery than an espresso, you’ll know that it just doesn’t work. I barely even got art on the first pour, and ran out of time on the second. It doesn’t really matter though, I wouldn’t have won against the pours that followed anyway.
Next up: John
As you can see, this is pretty much perfection. (this was actually one of his practice pours, but I assure you the submitted one looked virtually the same.) Symmetry, definition, balance, and framing – all in one. John’s pour lunged him into first place, with a monster score of 120.
Even after a few more competitors, John’s score kept him at the top. Then Hiroshi came up to bat.
His concentration and movements while competing were so precise – keeping his poise the whole way through both the practice and competition time. His hands were steady, and his tamps perfect right angles.
After he poured we didn’t know what was going to happen. He poured 3 rosetta’s, one larger one in the middle, with 2 smaller ones on either side of it. It’s also the pour that won him the Milrock Championship, so we knew it was going to be close.
You don’t find out the score for a pour for a few minutes after, so we all stood there waiting, eyes on the scoreboard.
It finally appeared: Hiroshi – 118.
John was still in the lead, with only 3 people left.
Next up was the one person you don’t want to face in a latte art competition, and he goes by the name of Chris.
The shirt he was wearing at the time removes all doubt from the non-believers, if there still are any.
For those who don’t really understand this shirt (don’t be shy.) click here.
Chris, as he seems to do always with ease, walked on up and poured rosetta after rosetta of goodness, through both his practice and official time. Even before his score was put up, we knew he had nailed it.
124 points. With only 2 more people left, Chris was the new leader. Incidentally, similar to the case of John’s latte art picture, that cup above was not the actual one that scored 124. Layla drank that one.
After the next competitor failed to take the lead with his pour, the last pourer took the stage, and it was none other than Maheep – the one and only – representing Steamrollers. (Yes, you read that right. He used to work with Blenz though.)
To be honest, Maheep was a wildcard from the beginning. Between the headband, and being one of the few who didn’t pour a rosetta either in the preliminary tournament, or this one, we didn’t know what was going to happen. I have to add before we go on that I actually really like Steamrollers ever since being shown it a few years back, and if you haven’t been before, click here for directions and go to the Robson location.
Oh and be sure to congratulate Maheep when you see him on coming 2nd place.
Maheep poured a pretty original design, and it was perfectly symmetrical. It’s on the bottom right there, and it scored a 121 – beating out Johnny for second place by 1 point – but leaving Chris untouched.
The fans rushed onto the court, suffocating Chris with hugs and cheers. (deja vu, anyone?)
And so it stood as follows:
Chris: 124 (crema)
Maheep: 121 (steamrollers)
John: 120 (crema)
Hiroshi: 118 (japan)
Just as the first time, Blenz did a great job of keeping everything running smoothly, all while managing to keep everyone’s interest throughout. And incase anyone forgot – this means that Chris gets an all paid trip to Japan courtesy of Blenz, and I believe Maheep and John get a cash prize as well.
Chris pwns n00bs – and for those of you counting he is now 3 for 3. If this was NBA Jam he’d be on fire, too.