Baristas Cross State Lines to Compete in the Kentucky-Tennessee Latte Art Throwdown

Spencer’s Coffee hosted the fifth annual Kentucky-Tennessee Latte Art Throwdown, bringing in baristas from all over the country to support special-needs youth.

On October 27th, one of the biggest informal throwdowns in the nation went down ”all in the relatively small town of Bowling Green, Kentucky. A field of 64 baristas competed for bragging rights and big-time prize packages; roasters from Louisville and Nashville brewed up their finest coffees for a packed house. And most importantly, over $2,500 was raised to benefit an amazing nonprofit.

The KY-TN Throwdown brought participants from all over the country.
The KY-TN Throwdown brought participants from all over the country.

The fifth-annual Kentucky-Tennessee Latte Art Throwdown, held at Spencer’s Coffee in Bowling Green, attracted baristas from all over both states, as well as from around the country. In fact, between the competitors and judges, five Coffee Fest World Latte Art champs were in attendance: Cabell Tice, Ryan Soeder and Chris Deferio competed, and Kenny Smith and Steven œFigtree  Lim judged. Yet for all the heavy-hitters present, it was a relative newcomer who took home the gold: Lance Hedrick, an Instagram sensation hailing from Dr. Beans in Memphis, Tennessee. John Letoto of Greenway Coffee in Houston, Texas took second, and Spencer’s own Nate Settle took third.

Participants represented a wide variety of both experience latte art competitors (like Cabell Tice, pictured above) and relative new-comers.
Participants represented a wide variety of both experience latte art competitors (like Cabell Tice, pictured above) and relative new-comers.

The event is one-of-a-kind: Two espresso machines are in operation for the first couple rounds ”along with two trios of judges ”to keep things moving quickly. A huge screen lets audience members see the pours in real time (while others could follow along on Periscope). First-round lattes are sold to audience members, and beer, donuts and raffles raise even more funds throughout the evening. A ˜dice round’ tests baristas’ skill sets ”swans, paper-cup pours and more are all possibilities. And even those baristas who don’t make it into the top three are eligible for second-chance prizes, thanks to an array of generous sponsors.

Pours were broadcast on a screen for everyone to see, and people were also able to follow along with the results on Periscope.
Pours were broadcast on a screen for everyone to see, and people were also able to follow along with the results on Periscope.

The KYTN Throwdown was founded with two goals in mind: First, to bring together the growing coffee communities of Louisville and Nashville (and, as mentioned, other shops and roasters from all over the region); and second, to benefit the Center for Courageous Kids, a world-renowned, donor-funded camp in Scottsville, KY., that serves special-needs youth and their families.

In the second round, dice are used to determine what vessel competitors will pour into and what shape they have to pour. Above, competitors pour swans into 12 oz cups.
In the second round, dice are used to determine what vessel competitors will pour into and what shape they have to pour. Above, competitors pour swans into 12 oz cups.

The event was made possible through support from La Marzocco, Prima Coffee, Baratza, Saint Anthony Industries, Barista Magazine, Acaia, Brew Global, La Colombe, Sunergos Coffee, Science Coffee and Misc. Goods.

justinABOUT THE AUTHOR
Justin Shepherd is the owner of Spencer’s Coffee and creator of the KYTN Throwdown. If you’d like help thinking through a charitable throwdown of your own, you may email Justin@spencerscoffee.com; and follow @kytn5 on Instagram for more information, along with updates on next year’s event.

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