WASHINGTON – For fans of coffee, art and shows like “Iron Chef America,” this is just the thing.
Thursday Night Throwdown, also known as TNT, is a monthly latte art competition between baristas from independent coffee shops in D.C.
It’s drawing bigger and bigger crowds as it rotates to different locations around town.
This barista battle is all about carefully pouring steamed milk into espresso to create designs such as tulips or rosettas.
Rosettas are the designs that look like ferns.
“The quality of your pour is based on the quality of the milk that you steamed. So you have to be very very efficient, and very steady with your hand when you steam as well as when you pour the milk,” said Ezzat Obaid, head barista at Tryst where this month’s TNT was held.
“So when you finally pour, you’re going to basically have a nice clean design. If you’ve steamed it properly, your design will show distinction, it will show symmetry, and it will also show a sheen, a nice shine to it on top as well.”
Those used to buying coffee at a fast food or quick service restaurant might not know that places such as Tryst serve coffee that’s tasty to sip as well as pretty to look at.
“Every drink we pour has a design on it. We do not let anything out of that (espresso) machine without having a beautiful design on it. We’re very proud of what we do,” Obaid said.
During Thursday night’s competition, 28 baristas faced each other 2-by-2, NCAA-bracket-style.
During each face off, the drinks were marked A and B and placed in front of a panel of three judges.
The judges picked the prettiest pours until they narrowed it down to a single winner, Camillo Poveda from The Coupe, who took home a goody bag, a cash prize and bragging rights.
Former Tryst barista Yuki Izumi, MadCap Coffee CEO Trevor Corlett, and Matthew Lesko, the “Question Mark Guy” of infomercial fame and a Tryst regular, judged Thursday night’s competition.
TNT is usually held on the second Thursday of every month.
DMV Coffee has more details about the barista competitions.
Watch a barista battle from Thursday’s competition and see the judges’ final decision in the video below: