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We Came, We Saw, We Conquered

by Todd Goldsworthy, Klatch Coffee Guru

On Thursday, December 5th, I had the great pleasure and opportunity to travel to San Francisco for the Bay Area Coffee Community (BACC) vs. Los Angeles TNT (LATNT) Latte Art Championship. The prizes were plentiful, everything from a Baratza grinder, to a trip to BGA Barista camp, and cold hard cash! The real prize though would be bragging rights of having the best latter art in California, LA came with prepared with our game faces ready. I entered Four Barrel’s café around 6pm to enthusiastic and friendly greetings from many of the Bay Area’s finest in the coffee community. I was asked to represent LA by judging the competition alongside Hiver Van Geenhoven from Chromatic Coffee and coffee legend Andrew Barnett, founder of Linea Caffe, I of course said yes!

64 competitors were signed up for BACC’s epic season finale, including four of LA TNT’s finest who were ready to show the BACC what we’re made of. The three LA TNT Champions: Runei Matsumoto, Drew Alcala, and Eugene Lee, automatically qualified to represent LA in the CA Grand Championship at the end of the night while Go Get ‘Em Tiger’s Matt Wygal made the trip to support LA and compete against BACC.
Shortly after 7pm competitors were ready, judges were ready, and the beer had been tapped....we were ready for a throwdown. BACC organizer Richard Sandlin began announcing the night’s rules and current standings. It was then that I witnessed the friendly, welcoming Bay Area baristas quickly changed their tune when they heard LA was here to represent and the chant of “Beat LA, Beat LA, Beat LA” beginning a long night of trash talk. BACC was friendly but ruthless saying LA “suburban speak” was hard to understand and that were surprised we found somewhere to park our Hummers. Instead verbal retaliation we decided to let the talent speak for itself.
Pour by pour was set in front of the judges and 64 competitors turned to 32. 32 became 16, and 16 became 8. The top eight came together, which included two LA competitors: Runei Matsumoto and Drew Alcala . Eight became four with Runei and Drew continuing to hold their own. The Bay Area community was completely blown away by the intricacies of their pours.
When the top two were announced it was a brief feeling of deja vu, just one month earlier Runei and Drew went head to head in LA for the title of campion. The BACC crowd became noticeably tamer as they watched to see which LA barista would be crowned the winner in San Francisco. Pours were set down, judges debated and in the end all finger pointing went to Drew Alcala’s cup and was named BACC’s Season Two Finale champ! Runei took second place and Patrick of Bellano Coffee, took third.
Next up, the event of the night (the one for all the bragging rights) the California Latte Art Championship, commenced. LA’s top three traveled to San Francisco for this. Runei, Drew, and Eugene vs. BACC’s Leslie from Bellano’s Coffee, Taylere from St. Frank Coffee, and Selina from Blue Bottle. The LA Men vs. the Bay Area Ladies… and what a great match up it was.

First up… The Ladies! Leslie, Taylere, & Selina went head to head (to head?) to determine who would be up against LA. Selina won, earning the right to represent The Bay Area Ladies. (Ironic, considering Selina had recently moved to LA, so really it was actually LA vs. LA. Ha!)
Next up: the LA Men go head to head (to head?) to see who would compete against Selina in the final pours of the California Championship. Eugene took it and moved on to the finals against Selina. After a long conversation amongst the judges and a very difficult decision to make, the California Latte Art Champion is announced: Eugene Lee of Cafe Dulce!
Los Angeles came, saw, and brought out our big ass broom for the sweep taking home 1st and 2nd place at the BACC finale and the overall awesome title of California Champion! So if you are ever looking for real latte art you know what city CA to get to.
Hey BACC - if you want tips on how to pour better latte art, our LA baristas will welcome you any time too :)

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