The first national champions of the speciality coffee year have taken their prizes at the Expowest foodservice show in Exeter.
Ttles were awarded for ‘latte art’, the skill of pouring or etching a design on the top of a cop of coffee, and for the best speciality coffee cocktail.
The creation of ‘latte art’ is now considered very good practice in the UK’s coffee-shops – indeed, in many of the best places it is now considered unusual to be served a coffee which does not have a design on the top.
The design can be created in several ways. The most professional way is a ‘free pour’, in which a design is created by the action of pouring the steamed and frothed milk from the jug.
Another acceptable method is ‘etching’, by which a design is drawn on to the coffee froth, sometimes in chocolate. The third, not usually considered as ‘real’ latte art, is the method in which chocolate powder is shaken on to the drink through a pre-cut stencil.
This year’s British latte art champion is Neil Le Bihan of Exchange Coffee in Lewisham Market, London. Neil won the best ‘free pour’ with a design described by the judges as ‘a hanging tulip, a swirling rosetta ending in a three-leaf tulip.
To avoid any possibility of the contest being won by a fluke lucky pour, contestants have to provide a photograph of the design they are aiming to achieve – the closer they get to the target design, the higher their marks.
A curiosity of this year’s event is that third place was taken by Lynsey Harley of Drury Tea & Coffee, who also works with Neil at the same stall in Lewisham.
Neil goes on to take part in the world championship in London, in June.
The Coffee in Good Spirits championship is for coffee cocktails with an alcohol ingredient, and this year’s winner was Ed Buston of Clifton Coffee in Bristol. Edmund’s cocktail was a Martini Potento (left), a powerful mixture of espresso mixed with nutty Italian liqueurs, floated on top of triple sec and topped with cream and freshly grated chocolate.
Edmund was second in the world championship last year, and will again represent Britain the in the world event.
These contests are all part of the lead-up to Britain’s biggest-ever coffee promotion, when the World Barista Championships come to London in June.
By Ian Boughton