Tag Archives: barista

The REAL Latte Art Challenge

When I first heard that Nestlé is sponsoring the latte art competition, I was already wondering what magic new espresso machine they are going to pull out of their hat this time. Yes, Nestlé, as in Nespresso infamy. Someone actually leaked (untruthfully) that it was going to be a Nespresso machine that was going to do the espresso base for the cappuccinos. I smsed the rest of the CGSG group, only to have CGSG Founder Kai Seng reply with “They should up the ante and use Nestlé milk powder.”

Yesterday, as the Latte Art Comp preceded the main Barista Competition, it was finally revealed to us what the magic machine was. I regret I do not have any photos here. (I shall take some later today.) You know the kind of Milo/Teh Tarik/Black Coffee/Hot Chocolate dispensers they have littering just about any ubiquitous kopitiam/hospital/waiting area? Yes, that all-in-one dispenser was making the espresso, sorry, black coffee for the capp base. They had a briefing on the stage where the 2 dispensers were proudly displayed, its innards being revealed to all in amazement. The insides looked like the insides of your CMYK inkjet printer. They have neat cartridges for black coffee premix, milo premix, teh tarik premix, etc. I was thinking someone would just be out there to make a cost effective Continuous Ink Beverage Supply System for this dispenser. But, at the same time, Steve and I were thinking of the problems the competitors are going to face trying to make latte art with this coffee.

This dispenser comes without PID, without all the wonderful technology most people take for granted when working with a budget toy like a $50 Krups or Braun, without the consistency to put out even an un-espresso nespresso. This is the equivalence of a 2 in one coffee mix that comes 30 packs in a bag at your nearest supermarket. It makes sweet black coffee topped with big bubbly foam. Now, this is what I call a REAL LATTE ART CHALLENGE. Ever since their first Barista Challenge in 2009, CuppaChoice always had the creativity of doing something out of the norm with the rest of the crowd. Their 1st Barista Challenge had the blind latte art challenge where competitors had to pour latte art without looking at the cup. This, of course, produced hilarious results with half the competitors burning their hands with hot milk.

You just have to think out of the box for this one. A few competitors thought of stamping out the foam by knocking the cup against the tabletop, the same way you would when faced with bubbles in your micro-foamed milk. But, for some, the bubbly foam coffee was still inpenetrable by the micro-foamed milk. This is coupled with the fact that even if the milk found a way to penetrate the coffee foam, it still had the thick coffee foam to restrict the flow of milk on top to draw your latte art. To the untutored eye, it would seem these competitors just do not have the skill to put out nice latte art. However, much to the surprise of many, the few and the proud still found a way to make really nice 5 hearted tulips, rosettas, and the like. Of course, it didn’t help the matter much as the judges were 2 time Singapore National Barista Champion John Ryan Ting and SNBC 2010 #3 Suhaimie Sukiman, both of whom came in #2 and #3 in both this year’s SNBC and its companion Latte Art Competition. #1 was happily vacationing in some Indonesian island and wasn’t available to do the judging.

Here are the finalists:

  • Nizam (Jolly Frog)
  • Fadzli (Jones the Grocer)
  • Terrence (30 mls)
  • Sham (CuppaChoice)
  • Fadhly (CuppaChoice)

Here’s one blog post that came to my mind when I was watching the latte art challenge unfold. Since the coffee foam was hard to work with, it would be great if you could spoon off the coffee foam, leaving just the black coffee. Then you would, as illustrated in James Hoffman’s answer to the readers who mentioned that latte art would be difficult without crema, be able to easier draw your latte art in black coffee.

This is a screenshot from James’ site. Clicking on it wouldn’t produce the video. You have to go to the link above and view the entire video. :)

MITR PHOL Barista Challenge 2010

[This post has been updated with correct dates and times as of 3 June 2010]

CUPPACHOICE INTERNATIONAL PTE LTD has been given the honour and responsibility to organise and run a Barista Challenge on behalf of MITR PHOL THAILAND and MAXWILL (ASIA) PTE LTD, in conjunction with MITR PHOL SUGAR Trade Show 2010.

The Trade Show will be held from the 4th to 6th June and the Barista Challenge will be the main focus from the 5th and finals on the 6th of June on the 4th June from 11 am to 7 pm and on the 5th June from 11 am to 7 pm.

The main event is MITR PHOL BARISTA CHALLENGE and the side event, MITR PHOL LATTE ART THROWDOWN.

Come join us in this carnival, after all, it is also the GREAT SINGAPORE SALE and there is no better place to be than in Orchard Road.

MITR PHOL BARISTA CHALLENGE 2010 (in running order)

1. Jackie (Jolly Frog Bistro Bar)

2. Terence (Boomarang Express)

3. Noribsham (Cuppachoice Café & Academy)

4. Natasha (1 Caramel Café)

5. Mustaffa (1 Caramel Café)

6. Fadhly (Cuppachoice Café & Academy)

7. Jason (Starbucks Coffee)

8. Cessna (Café Cartel)

9. Arfian (30 Mls Coffee Bar)

10. Nizam (30 Mls Coffee Bar)

11. Andy (Starbucks Coffee)

12. Main Pavan (Jones The Grocer)

NESTLE LATTE ART CHALLENGE

1. Arfian (30 Mls Coffee Bar)

2. Alif (Jones The Grocer)

3. Fadzli (Jones The Grocer)

4. Noribsham (CuppaChoice Café & Academy)

5. Art (Jones The Grocer)

6. Terence (Boomarang Express)

7. Fadhly (Cuppachoice Café & Academy)

8. Jackie (Jolly Frog Bistro Bar)

9. Andy (Starbucks Coffee)

10. Nizam (30 Mls Coffee Bar)

11. Jason (Starbucks Coffee)

12. Cessna (Café Cartel)

13. Han Bing (Café Cartel)

[excerpted from Facebook]

—————————————————————————

PANEL OF JUDGES

The judges have been announced to be the following:

Alex Chong- Sensory Judge (Master Roaster & MD of CuppaChoice)

Colin Loh – Sensory Judge (CGSG Founding Member, espresso.colinloh.com)

Adrian Toh – Sensory Judge (Nestle Professional Representative)

Zaccheus Leck – Sensory Judge (Maxwill Representative Coffee Lover)

Steve Cairns – Technical Judge (CGSG Founding Member)

Cheryl Lee – Technical Judge (2 time Malaysia Barista Champion)

John Ting – Latte Art Judge (Singapore National Barista Champion 2008,2009, WBC 2009 Ranked #21, Barista@Oriole Cafe)

Competition Blend

The blend used for the competition is a 60% Kenya AA / 40% Ethiopia Sidamo roasted by CuppaChoice to Mid-Dark.

Personal Notes:

I went to scout the location today. While my previous post mentioned that the barista challenge was to be held at Takashimaya, it is in actual fact being held at the outdoors Civic Plaza. The area allocated for the MITR PHOL Barista Challenge is super-huge, as compared to the area we are so used to during the Singapore National Barista Championships. The SNBC 2010 area was about one-tenth the size of MITR PHOL BC. The stage area is just behind the fountain at Ngee Ann City. I hope to update this blog post with photos tomorrow.

3rd CuppaChoice Barista Challenge at Ngee Ann City

[Dates have been updated as of 3rd June 2010]

I was going to announce this event much earlier on, but I’m glad I was busy and couldn’t do so. After a few revisions from CuppaChoice, here’s their final draft. SNBC 2010 #3 Suhaimie, if there are any changes…. Please let me know.

CuppaChoice International is organising their #3 Barista Challenge @ Takashimaya Departmental Store THE CIVIC PLAZA, Ngee Ann City from the 4th to 6th 5th June 2010 in conjunction with Asia’s Number 1 sugar manufacturer, MITR PHOL (who is running a )TRADESHOW from 4th to 6th June. Competition will thus be named, MITR PHOL BARISTA CHALLENGE 2010. More than $2,000 worth of cash and prizes are to be won. Interested baristi, please email #3 at suhaimie@cuppachoice.com for details (and obviously some well-wishes if you want to get on #3’s good side and win at least a door prize) today.

There are 2 competitions being contested. The main one, MITR PHOL BARISTA CHALLENGE requires a participation fee of $30 per Barista and the side challenge, Nestle Latte Art Free Pour requires a fee of $10. CuppaChoice will be collecting the funds on behalf of MITR PHOL and these funds will be added to the prize money.

Please confirm the challenges in which you and/or your representative(s) will be participating in. Please write a cheque payable to CUPPACHOICE PTE LTD and mail it to

CUPPACHOICE ACADEMY
3 Temple Street
Singapore 058556

BY 22nd OF MAY 2010.

For more details & well wishes, please email #3 at suhaimie@cuppachoice.com.

This Barista Challenge has garnered a huge interest and CuppaChoice has increased the slots from 10 to 12 Baristi for the main challenge. Latte Art has no capped limit on participation.

Hands On Review: La Marzocco FB80 Paddle Group

First of all, I would like to thank May Soo from Wineberry, the official La Marzocco distributor in Singapore for inviting me and Kai Seng to Food And Hotel Asia 2010 at Singapore Expo. The first thing we did after passing through the visitor registration process yesterday was heading to the La Marzocco booth at Hall 5C-8. The La Marzocco booth is also conveniently located opposite from the stage area where the Asia Barista Championship is being held today and tomorrow. Thankfully, ABC’s La Marzocco machines are sponsored by Wineberry, unlike Singapore National Barista Championship’s mismatched pair of machine-grinder combo.

On display were 2 very sought after machines of mine.

This is a La Marzocco GS3 Paddle Group with clear side panels. The clear side panels are an exhibition only feature as the original GS3 comes with black side panels. This one time model is also on sale for a very good price of S$9000. I was told that there will be a price hike for La Marzocco soon.

And the winning espresso machine of FHA 2010 this year would be the La Marzocco FB80 Paddle Group. This machine is a beauty to behold. We could see that the 3 groups all had individual PIDs, with temperatures set at 94.8°C, 96.6°C and 95.5°C. As the temperatures show, it would mean the PIDs could be configured in steps of 0.1 degree. WOW!

This FB80 model comes with LED lights too. Note also the matte black steam wands. Sleek!

That’s one less trip to Ikea to get the LED strips.

Paired with the 2 La Marzocco espresso machines is the La Marzocco Swift, a grinder with auto-dosing and auto-tamping.

The real feature the FB80 and the GS3 had that attracted the both of us were the paddle groups and the ability of pressure profiling. So many of the other espresso machines found at FHA this year were mostly boasting Green-Save-The-Environment features. These paddle group machines meant that we could control the amount of pre-infusion time and the amount of pressure manually. The paadle group lever goes smoothly from right to left. As I gradually moved the lever to the center position, I could see that the pressure went to 3 bars steadily, and as I moved the lever to the left, the pressure began to climb to 9 bars.

With the La Marzocco Swift ensuring the tamping and dosing variable would remain constant throughout, we could easily put the FB80 to the test. I went first. I chose to use the 95.5°C grouphead and proceeded to flush the grouphead with the portafilter attached. I then detached the portafilter, gave it a good wipe and locked it into the Swift. The coffee provided was Oriole Cafe’s freshly roasted Espresso blend, another good match to the machine. After the Swift’s dosing and tamping ended, I unlocked the portafilter and locked it back into the FB80. I gradually moved the lever to the center position and then waited for the first drops. Just as I did that, I knew that Kai Seng would probably be thinking the same thing as I was at the time. This experience would be perfect if I had brought along my naked portafilter. After about 7 seconds, the first dark chocolate coloured drops appeared in the cup. I let it drip for about 4 seconds before gradually moving the lever the the left, bringing the pressure up to 9 bars. The pour was superb, the colours went from dark chocolate to lighter dark chocolate. The crema in the cup was so spectacular. At the first sign of very slight bloding, I moved the lever back to the right to stop the pour. The espresso was heavenly. I could taste the wide complex taste spectrum of the espresso. No bitters at all, some chocolates, a buttery mouthfeel. At 95.5°C, I was in 7th heaven with Oriole Cafe’s espresso blend.

Darn! I’m late for work. I will finish this review when I return later in another 11 hours’ time. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, please attend FHA 2010 even if it means paying the $80 at the door. Wineberry will not be having the FB80 for long. I’ve heard that the unit already has a buyer.

P.S.  The only odd feature we didin’t like was the fact that there was only 1 pressure gauge shared between all 3 groups. I turned on the 3 individual groups at different times and it seemed that the pressure gauge displayed the highest pressure at any one time.

Video – SNBC 2010 Finals – Keith Loh

This is the video of Keith Loh’s (Oriole Cafe) winning performance during the Final Round of the Singapore National Barista Championship 2010. Keith went on to win the Championship and will be representing Singapore in the World Barista Championship held in London later this year.

[xr_video id=”95531d3a9e0d4bce892ec5180671da24″ size=”sm”]