CEDAR FALLS | Baristas faced off in a friendly competition of latte art at Sidecar Coffee on College Hill.
Although the competition was light, creating art in the foam is just frivolous flaunting.
"The reason to do latte art is to show that you've steamed the milk right," said Andy Fuchtman, Sidecar Coffee shop manager. "When you steam it just right, there's a texture that's like cake."
A barista who steams the milk too much or too little won't have a canvas for the artwork in the cup. A coffee composition in your cup means more than the barista's skills, said Jed Vander Zanden, Sidecar Coffee Roasters founder.
"It's the promise of a good drink," Vander Zanden said.
Ten baristas from Sidecar and from Brewed Awakenings in Cedar Rapids competed to impress dozens of customers and a panel of three judges. The baristas would create the latte art two at a time and faced off in a round-robin tournament on Oct. 24. The judges based their decisions on symmetry, contrast and form of the artwork each barista presented.
Baristas generally use one of three basic shapes — pear, tulip and rosetta, Fuchtman said.
"I felt like I was on stage," said Sidecar barista Austin Kinsey.
Although the competition was friendly and mostly between colleagues, the extra attention to their pours was a bit intimidating at first.
"I was really shakey, actually when it started," said Caitlin Argotsinger, barista at Sidecar.
Calling herself the "new kid on the block" at Sidecar, Argotsinger said her goal was to win at least one round. She won multiple rounds, making it to the quarter finals.
For some of the baristas, competing against friends was fun.
"I know everyone here," said Kelli O'Donnell, "It's definitely a fun atmosphere."
Brewed Awakenings barista Tyler Owen, traveled from Cedar Rapids to compete. It was his first latte art competition. For him, the competition was a chance to watch others do what he enjoys.
"I like watching other people do their thing," Owen said. "I have fun with it. I really enjoy pouring latte art."
At the end of the competition, Kinsey took first place among the 10 competitors. Fuchtman said he plans to hold more competitions. His baristas did Sidecar proud, he said.
"Part of our approach to coffee is to try real hard to have a high level of the craft," Fuchtman said. "I think the coffee culture in Iowa is getting bigger and bigger."