The huddle of plaid smokers in front of Bull Run Coffee at 10:00 p.m. was the first clue that something unusual was going on Thursday at the coffeehouse on Lyndale Avenue. As the Hot Dish crossed the threshold, a serious coffee crowd was enjoying the sounds of Soviet Panda and storming the counter for beer and coffee. The ringleader was Gordon Bellaver, manager of the java joint and host for the ensuing latte art throwdown. There was plenty of socializing until the contest began, and then all eyes seemed to be on those brave enough to vie for the title (and the $5 a person entry fee).
Want to see some of the winning pours and who won? Read on.
Coffee peeps from many of the Cities' best shops were in attendance, either to compete or gawk at their pals. The first round saw 20 competitors, with several, like Andrew Kopplin, throwing in their $5 entry fee at the last minute.
The tight-knit brewing community followed the action closely, even heckling when necessary. The trio of judges--World Barista Champ Michael Phillips, Ben Lavelle from Angry Catfish, and a noncoffee expert named Kristin who lives upstairs from the shop--carefully scored each contestant in the first round with a total possible 120 points for symmetry, contrast/definition, creativity/difficulty, and overall beauty. Scores ranged from 22 to 95.5 after all the baristas made their first cup.
The designs were impressive, especially as the night wore on and more beer was consumed. The second round was less formal, as the judges delivered their decisions by a simple show of hands. The still-game baristas went head-to-head serving up impressive milk work.
There was much dancing, general merriment, and even a chance to watch some dudes drink down the container where all the lattes were dumped.
And in the end, a winner was crowned. After topping the first round, perhaps it was fated: The host of the evening, Bull Run manager and Katy Perry enthusiast Gordon Bellaver, took the crown and the $180 kitty.
We look forward to a year of barista contests to see if any other champs emerge.