Latte art skills put to the test in friendly tourney

Latte art is one of those little finishing touches that tend to distinguish the top local coffee houses from the chains, where apparently making art with hot foamy milk is against corporate policy.

Many of us tend to marvel at the artistry. Some customers are curious enough that they even take classes (Temple Coffee has offered latte art tutorials). But mostly, we leave it to the experts, knowing that it takes a lot of practice to even get respectable.

Now comes a competition hosted by four of the most serious local coffee companies – Old Soul, Temple, Insight and Chocolate Fish – to see who is making the best latte art. There’s more to it than meets the eye – micro-foam, texture, wrist action, creativity – and there are plenty of talented and devoted baristas out there. The judging will be in four categories: contrast, texture and foam quality, symmetry of pattern, and achieved difficulty

The tournament will be monthly beginning in March and will be hosted at each coffee shop on the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. The events are open to anyone with a modicum of experience, and the $5 entry fee goes toward the winner’s prize for that evening. Contestants will earn points each month and the cumulative total will lead to a grand prize.

The competition is open to the public and attendees can cheer on their favorite contestants and coffee houses. Expect a party atmosphere.

Here are the dates:

March 13: Chocolate Fish.

April 10: Insight.

May 8: Temple.

June 12 grand finale: Old Soul in the alley.