It's strange what quarantine will do to you. I haven't been to a latte art throwdown in some amount of time that can be most efficiently counted in years—save for the occasional Coffee Champs party I attended where a throwdown was coincidentally also happening. Debates about wastefulness aside, after nearly a month of sheltering in place, nothing sounds more enthralling than sitting shoulder to shoulder with two other individuals at the judges table, beer in hand, watching milk cascade into espresso in an artful way. Here's where the turn normally would come, where there's a big reveal that SURPRISE! We're all free to move about freely so let's go to this throwdown! Unfortunately this is not the case.
In its place, please accept this alternate turn: SURPRISE! Bellingham, Washington's Camber Coffee has just announced their Home Latte Throwdown. The best part is, you don't need a home espresso machine to take part, and you just may win one.
Announced today, Friday, April 10th via Instagram, the Home Latte Throwdown is unlike your more analog milk pouring competitions. Most obviously, it's not in person (duh); all entries are made via Instagram. The real challenge—as well as the great equalizer—is that pump-pressured machines, like y'know espresso machines—are expressly verboten. You're going to have to get creative to get that espresso base. And if you were going to try to get cute and use the steam wand on your espresso machine to microfoam your milk, that's been nixed by the rules too. Camber suggests getting your milk right via “french press, handheld milk frother, immersion blender, shaking vigorously,” so long as it is not steam-powered you can froth with it.
A panel of expert judges will choose three finalists based on “clarity, symmetry, use of space, aesthetic appeal, and, of course, ‘flair'”, who will then go on to compete live on April 30th for the grand prize package that includes a Rocket Espresso Giotto Timer Type V espresso machine, Baratza Sette 270Wi, Acaia Lunar, a copy of The New Rules of Coffee, an Able AeroPress Disk, a “wonder bundle” from Miir, a one year supply of Camber Coffee, and $100 worth of local produce delivery provided by Oatly.
In lieu of the traditional entry fee, all you have to do to take part in the Home Latte Throwdown is send proof via Insta DM to Camber of a contribution of any size to a non-profit of your choosing. In addition to contributing the espresso machine for the grand prize, Seattle Coffee Gear will also be making a $2,500 donation to the Restaurant Workers Community Foundation, with Oatly kicking in an extra $500 to make it a cool $3,000. To enter, post a video to Instagram of the entire process—the milk prep, the brew, the pour, and the finished drink—all shown in a single continuous shot, making sure to tag @cambercoffee and use the hashtag #stayhomethrowdown.
For a full set of rules and print most fine, head over to Camber Coffee's Instagram. Time to get to practicing those alternative spro-ing and steaming techniques. There's an espresso machine on the line. And if you're stuck at home, what else do you have to do anyway?
Disclosure: Camber Coffee is an advertising partner with the Sprudge Media Network