While San Diego has gained quite the reputation for having some of the best (and the most) micro-breweries in the country; coffee has never been a "San Diego" thing. Well, now (thanks to the likes of San Diego Coffee Network and local roasters, Caffe Calabria and Coffee & Tea Collective); San Diego will be contending with some of the biggest coffee cities, like Portland and San Francisco, in bringing not only great coffee to SD, but a community behind the businesses, roasters, bloggers and all around coffee lovers.
So, if you have never heard of a latte art competition, well, they are popular in other big cities like L.A, Portland, San Francisco, but this is a new thing for San Diego. The newly fashioned San Diego Coffee Network decided to stir things up (haha) and get in on the action with the Thursday Night Throwdown - a barista latte making competition where the coffee geniuses are judged based on symmetry, infusion and contrast.
We popped into Coffee & Tea Collective in North Park, where baristas from Mexico to San Francisco were there to show off their latte art making skills. The place was packed! The energy was buzzing (probably too much coffee) and we were ready to see what else there was beyond the Grande Soy Latte Frappuccino, Extra Whip.
The Judges for the night and local coffee luminaries: Chuck Patton, founder of Birdrock Coffee Roasters, John Rippo of The Espresso, one of the country's only coffee house newspapers, and Mike Lone, a green coffee importer from Mitsui and Co. It's a hard job, but somebody's gotta do it.
They made it! Celebrations for the baristas who made it into the next round.
And the winner is...... Patrick from Coffee & Tea Collective who, by the way, had some sweet dance moves. The San Diego Coffee Network is a brand spanking new organization (and pretty cool one) started by Jared Wardle (designer and videographer), Mike Helms (roaster and jack of all trades), Matt Barahura (certified barista and latte art trainer whom you might have seen at Caffe Calabria) and Jessica Percifield (a seasoned coffee blogger and event maker). SDCN began to provide a platform for the coffee community of San Diego to come together, hold some fun events and just have a place to chat. They are always looking for coffee enthusiasts to join them, so feel free to connect with them on Facebook, and be on the look out for more upcoming coffee events in San Diego (including more competitions which are always open to the public to compete and attend). Drink up San Diego, your coffee's about to get a whole lot cooler.
photos by Chantal Pasag