Baristas Battle for Best Latte Art Foam

Coffee culture was on full display at Birch Coffee’s Headquarters in Long Island City, as baristas from all over the city battled it out to prove who can pour the best foam art. NY1's Van Tieu reports.

It's the love of coffee expressed in art foam, and it's just as hard as it looks.

"[Latte art] takes a lot of experience, a lot of practice, and it also takes fundamentals, like understanding the way that you’re steaming the milk," said Birch Coffee co-founder Jeremy Lyman.

Lyman says the foam designs aren't just to make coffee look pretty.

"When you’re doing it properly and you’re getting good art work out of the latte, it is because your milk is steamed appropriately. So they do it to show the person taking the drink that they’ve done it correctly," Lyman said.

That's why competition was heating up at the Birch Coffee Roastery in Long Island City, which hosted its first Barista Bash battle on Saturday night.  Baristas from all over the city were seeking to prove they've got the best pour.

Adam Keita of Coffee Project NYC says he’s been a barista for three years. He says pouring latte art takes patience.

"Honestly, it’s just trial and error," he said. "And like anything, a willingness to learn. Just practice, practice, practice, practice."

The coffee the baristas were serving is made specifically for milk drinks. The double blend of beans from Brazil and Costa Rica are roasted in the Birch warehouse in Long Island City. Birch buys them green.

"That’s the color that is," said co-founder Paul Schlader. "That’s the dense heavy coffee before all the moisture is taken out, which is what happens throughout the roasting process."

From bean to cup, the Birch founders say coffee is an experience, and the Barista bash is one way for coffee lovers to see the passion behind the counter. 

"For me to feel confident in my drink, it took me like a year or two just to just kind of go, 'Snap! I know this is my drink! This is mine. Here you go!'" Keita said.

The winner takes home a cash prize.

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