swan flu

May 5, 2009 – 11:12 am

hoedown stunner. (all images by jake, of j4 studios.)

suspiciouser and suspiciouser is how you might describe these burgeoning southeast latte art competitions in which, no matter how many credentialed latte artists are in the house, the host barista seems to always win! so convenient!

there was jason dominy winning his own grand prize in charlotte, octane’s danielle outpouring some of the world’s best in her own atlanta bar last month and now, most staggeringly, coffee and crema’s alex beating jason AND danielle AND former millrock champion ben helfen in his own bar’s grand opening hoedown.

“throwdowns,” we suppose, are SO last year. latte art HOEdowns, though, have all the throbbing aura of a southern corn-pone pig pickin’.

“rigged?” the word was shouted in humor a few times in what was definitely the weirdest, funniest, most wildly unpredictable latte art bash this blog has ever attended. sundry live twitterers were sure to agree. if you get philosophical enough about it, though, you can actually come up with a pretty good explanation for the alex medina stunner that gives him credit for being gutsy, bringing down the house, pouring a rare latte swan at a crucial turn and grabbing that new grand-prize vario grinder all for himself. shucks, if you’re philosophical enough, you can explain anything!

the wrenching tick-tock hath already been posted here. this blog will boil down the plot twists into handy, over-reaching bulleted observations!

1. consumer judges. two of the three, at least, seemed to be gloriously unconcerned with the subtle difficulties of pouring a sharp, complex tulip. when confronted with a surprise swimming pond animal, however, the impression was profound. in other words, it was an expectations game — a consumer’s expectations. instructive! and, when you think about it, a possibly rad way to judge a latte art competition.

2. homecourt advantage. there’s nothing like the aural explosion that follows an unexpected twist from the local underdog. you might imagine the impact such a crowd reaction would have had on the judges themselves, whose own camera phones whipped out and whose ears were full of badgering opinions when it came down to a decision. alex played the field perfectly.

3. the swan itself. this blog, having sort-of demonstrated the idea a week earlier, didn’t even THINK about trying it in the heat of competition. everyone’s nerves were oddly on edge for such a collegial smackdown, and alex must have been especially nervous. to try the swan, then, after a mere week of practice, and to plop it down against a barista with tattoos of his winning latte arts, was unthinkably gutsy. also, it looked shockingly like a real pond swimmer!

respect the swan. guffaws and head-shaking followed the performance into the night. twitter still hasn’t ceased to carry the swan flu. t-shirts are being made. and alex has a deserved bit of liquid notoriety.

camera phones out. in greenville, swans and tulips are no small thing.

a surprise wreath, shannon’s tulip and helfen’s version in two stages.

octane’s danielle, liquid highway’s dustin.