NZSCA on the battle of the artists

By Jessica MacDonald, the NZSCA Community and Events Coordinator.

The NZSCA has enjoyed a jam-packed events calendar in the first half of 2017.

Following the NZ Brewers Cup and Cup Tasters Championship in March, the Meadow Fresh Latte Art Championship took place on 8 April at Cerebos Gregg’s headquarters in Auckland.

Leading up to the event, a number of regional latte art throwdown competitions took place around the country to give competitors practice and spectators a reminder of why this technique is one of the most visually compelling to watch. NZ 2013 Latte Art Champion Sam Low was also on hand to provide competitors with his inside knowledge of milk, the basics to latte art pours, and competition strategies.

When it came down to the business end of competition, crowds gathered at Cerebos Gregg’s, which provided stadium-style bench seating with almost 180-degree views looking down to the stage below. Competitor support crews, friends, and family enjoyed the best vantage point in the building, and built a high-energy atmosphere.

The competition was held in strict accordance with World Latte Art Championship (WLAC) official rules and regulations. The national event took place in two preliminary rounds, the first being the art bar section where each contestant had 10 minutes to pour a single creative pattern of their choosing and present it to the photographer. The photographer then presented the image to the judging panel for blind assessment. This year, competitors poured creative designs and showcased some truly special talent.

In the second round, competitors took to the stage and performed eight-minute routines. Within this timeframe, they poured two identical free-pour lattes and two identical designer lattes.
n Consistency is key in this round, with competitors replicating a pre-chosen design as closely as possible. The judges looked for accuracy in the delivery of patterns, and assessed the competitor’s hospitality skills and overall performance.

The highest scoring six competitors then took to the stage in the final round, which included Shine Kim, Isaac Yu, Leo Li, Michael Boyd, Isabella Brown, and Hoony Chae. Each competitor presented two identical samples of “art in a cup” for three different beverages: two separate sets of matching free-pour lattes and one set of matching designer pattern lattes (incorporating etching, or similar techniques, and surface decoration). The beverages were judged immediately for visual attributes, creativity, identical patterns in the pairs, contrast in the patterns, and the barista’s overall performance.

It was a tough battle to the end, but there could only be one winner – Leo Li of Atomic Coffee Roasters, who took out the title of 2017 New Zealand Meadow Fresh Latte Art Champion. In close second place was Isaac Yu and, in third place was Hoony Chae. We wish Leo all the best in competing at the WLAC in Budapest.

This event couldn’t happen without the support of our sponsors, to which we thank Amc Roastery Supply, Victoria Arduino, Orb Coffee, Cafetto, Acme & Co, and a special mention to our naming rights sponsor Meadow Fresh for ongoing support and personalising the competitor milk bottles with individual names and best wishes.

That’s three national championship events down, and one more to go – the NZ Barista Championship, taking place from 19 to 20 August at L’affare Roastery in Wellington.

For more information on the New Zealand Specialty Coffee Association, or to join, visit

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