Ben Morrow wins Genovese Coffee MIFF Latte Art Smackdown

Melbourne’s The Forum theatre is usually home to live music acts, but on 11 August the space was transformed into a competition hub where Melbourne’s top latte artists united to compete in the Genovese Coffee Latte Art Smackdown in collaboration with the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF).

More than 170 eager supporters gathered in The Forum’s foyer until the doors of the venue opened at 5pm. More than 30 baristas had registered to compete in the smackdown event, but the competition pool was soon cut to just 16.

Event organisers pulled names out of a hat one by one, with cries of excitement and sighs of disappointment heard from the crowd.

Held in The Forum’s The Blackhearts Club, one by one shots of Genovese Coffee were pulled and placed in front of baristas to go head-to-head in knockout rounds, pouring patterns of their choosing using the new Viper standalone steam wand unit.

The judges, including Joe Tynan of Cafe Imports, Ben Toovey of Genovese Coffee, and Sarah Baker of BeanScene magazine, had their work cut out for them. There were plenty of swans, tulips and rosettas on display, with the best patterns earning their makers a spot in the next round.

Eventually, there was just two baristas left standing as Ben Morrow of Sensory Lab and Nobu Shimoyama of Superrandom in Brighton, Victoria battled-it-out.

In the end it was Ben’s cleanliness and definition that got his Hummingbird pattern over the line with two out of three judges voting in favour of Ben’s design.

“What a way to finish my last few days in Melbourne,” Ben said. “I hadn’t intended entering the competition until the last minute, but thought it’d be a great opportunity to see all my coffee friends one last time before I leave [for Rotterdam, The Netherlands] and have some fun.”

Ben poured a Hummingbird for his final pour, a pattern that helped him earn sixth place at the World Latte Art Championship in Shanghai, China in April.

“I always have a strategy going into a competition. I always offer the other competitor to pour the same thing so it’s a fair playing field, then it’s all about execution, and just doing it better,” Ben said. “I knew Nobu would pull out all stops in the final, and he did.”

Nobu says his key to second place was focusing on his milk to coffee ratio and texture, more so than the art.

As the winner, Ben received a prize pack valued at $1200. Nobu received a prize pack valued at $760, and third place winner Andy Wong won a prize pack valued at $280.

They include gifts such as a Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) Diploma module of the winner’s choosing, a Dolo cold drip tower, Rhinoware accessories, Little Guy Induction Top, AeroPress coffee maker, a World Barista Championship apron, and much more. For a full list of prizes click here.

Ben finished working with the St Ali family last Saturday, and is just days away from waving goodbye to Melbourne for “a very long time” to be with his girlfriend Esther Maasdam in Rotterdam.

“There’s a lot about Melbourne I’m going to miss. One of the most attractive things about Melbourne’s coffee scene is that everybody’s good at it. I think we all take that for granted,” Ben says. “I”m looking forward to starting my next adventure in Rotterdam. The coffee scene is really small there, but the first time I visited it reminded me of Melbourne. It’s a young city waiting to happen. My dream is to start my own thing there, possibly a roastery – I’ve already worked out the perfect name.”

Last night’s latte art smackdown was also in celebration of the Melbourne premier of Barista, a documentary about five barista’s journey to the United States Barista Championship.

Following the smackdown guests were invited to enjoy a screening of Barista at Federation Square’s AMCI theatre as part of the MIFF.

A big thankyou to Genovese Coffee for hosting the event, and to Bombora Coffee and Water Supplies, Cafe Imports Australia, The Little Guy Espresso, Dolo Cafe Supplies, Viper Steamer, and Procal Dairies, proud supporters of Genovese Coffee’s Latte Art Smackdown.

We wish Ben all the best for his overseas adventures.

For more information visit

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend