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Rob Butterworth, of Butterworth and Son, in Bury St Edmunds, focuses on latte art and the competition to find the best barista

For the last two years, Butterworth & Son have held a Bury St Edmunds Latte Art Throwdown at Wright’s Café.

Latte art is the name given to the practice of producing intricate patterns or designs in milky coffees, such as cappuccinos, lattes and flat whites.

The event invites local baristas, of any skill set, to come forward and showcase their skills in a friendly competition event.

Baristas taking part in the Latte Art Throwdown
Baristas taking part in the Latte Art Throwdown

Every entrant receives a ‘goodie bag’, which usually contains merchandise from Wright’s, Butterworth’s and leading coffee industry businesses, which have kindly donated to the event.

There are big prizes for 1st and 2nd place. In previous years, we have awarded an electric coffee grinder and top-of-range hand grinder, both with retail values of more than £200.

Previous winners have been Arthur Leaf of Folk Café (2021) and Will Greavner (2022) formerly of Thetford Garden Centre (now Butterworths).

Latte art dice used to test baristas and the crowd enjoying the last Latte Art Throwdown
Latte art dice used to test baristas and the crowd enjoying the last Latte Art Throwdown

The competition is a knock-out type, where the baristas are pitted directly against each other in pairs over four different rounds, which become progressively harder.

There are three judges and the judging criteria is based upon overall neatness, no spillages but cup should be full, the design should be central with the cup handle positioned on the right, for the consumer. Coffee parts of the design should be brown and milk parts white, with minimal blending between the two components. The pattern should match the latte art dice in rounds where this is used.

Once presented with the drinks, the judges, upon the count of three, point to their preferred winner, the majority wins. The judges can not see which competitor is making the drinks.

Everyone enjoying the Latte Art Throwdown at Wright's café 2022
Everyone enjoying the Latte Art Throwdown at Wright's café 2022

Round one is a freestyle round. Each barista has the opportunity to pour their favourite design in an 8oz medium-sized bowl-shaped cup (the rounder shaped cups are easier to form patterns in as the milk flows to the surface easier). This allows the barista, regardless of skill set, home barista or seasoned competitor to have a go at their best pour.

Round two introduces the addition of beginner latte art dice. This die has what are considered basic patterns on its six sides and the die is rolled at the start of each set. This round is in 8oz cups again.

Round three becomes a little trickier. The beginner latte art dice is once again used to select a pattern for competitors, but the baristas must now pour designs into an 8oz takeaway cup. The taller, straight-sided cups are more challenging for a barista to form patterns.

Round four, the final round, takes a marked leap in difficulty. The final few competitors are provided with patterns selected by the throw of latte art dice from the intermediate set, where the patterns are more intricate. Competitors are also required to now pour into a 6oz tulip-shaped cup. The base of the cup is significantly narrower than the top and the graduation to the wider part is small which makes the process of the milk forming on top of the coffee more challenging.

The winner of the previous year is asked to sit on the judging panel in the following year.

All proceeds from the ticket sales and event charity raffle go to our selected charity Emmaus Suffolk, a charity which works with vulnerable, socially isolated people and those at risk of homelessness across the county.

The event has previously been held the first Thursday evening of December, but will now be hosted in the spring.