Aaron Dongsu Shin creates The Penguin

For lovers of the movie Happy Feet, you’re in for a treat.

In the movie, you might recall the character Lovelace, the rockhopper penguin. He’s a distinguished character because of his beak and bright yellow crests. He’s also the top of the pecking order in the penguin colony. Like him, if you can master this design, your customers will be tapping their feet in joy as well.

This pattern is no easy feat. A few years ago I was looking to create an original pattern that combined all my skills for the Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) Southern Regional competition. I first taught myself how to create the penguin head, which I thought looked realistic, but my friends didn’t think so and told me it needed to be modified. So, I worked hard to develop the pattern to be more life-like. I practiced for hours and hours. Sometimes it went well and I felt like I was progressing, and others times, it was horrible.

I won’t lie – developing a new pattern or in this case enhancing one is tricky, but the end result is always satisfying if you persist. I know with lots of practice you can make this happen too, and perhaps it will inspire you to start your own animal or original design. Are you up for the challenge?

Let’s break it down. This penguin pattern consists of tulips, rosettas, and a heart. The tricky part is pouring the body of the penguin.

The other pressure point is constantly turning your cup and pouring at the right angle and right position in the cup to ensure the design is centred and symmetrical.

Practice swivelling the cup in your fingertips back and forth to perfect the motion in one continuous motion.

Practice makes perfect.

Aaron Dongsu Shin creates The Penguin

Aaron Dongsu Shin

Step 1

Hold the cup in your left hand with the handle at 12 o’clock. Start to build your base and pour a triple tulip stack or four tulips if you can.

Step 2

Stack them nice and tight to create the penguin body. Pull through to the end of the bottom tulip.

Step 3

Rotate the cup 180 degrees so that the handle is at 6 o’clock. Pour a half circle using the same method used to form a swan’s head.

Step 4

At the end of the half circle, add a small upwards four-leaf rosetta to form the feathers.

Step 5

Repeat this step on the opposite side of the penguin.

Step 6

In the space between the rosettas (in the middle of the cup), pour a tiny heart to join the head together and form the beak.

Step 7

Rotate the cup 90 degrees so that the handle is at 3 o’clock. To form the left arm of the penguin, pour a six-leaf rosetta that curves inward at the end.

Step 8

Rotate the cup clockwise 90 degrees. To form the right arm, repeat the same pattern: pour a six-leaf rosetta on the opposite side curved inward at the end.

Step 9

Turn the cup. Pour one dot to form the left foot, and another dot for the right foot. There you have it – a penguin!

Aaron’s top competition tips:

  • Stay calm. Don’t focus on what other are doing. Stick to what you’re comfortable with.
  • Check your equipment thoroughly to ensure you have everything you need. Make a check list and go through it a few days before competition, the night before, and on the morning of the event.
  • Practice your hand movements. You don’t need milk and coffee. Practice holding the cup, rotating the cup, and the position you’ll aim the spout.
  • Enjoy it! Competitions are as much about having fun as they are about placings.

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