Now in our 3rd year of sponsorship for the UK Latte Art Championships (UKLAC), we’re privileged to support a huge talent-pool of exceptional latte artists as they battle it out and take part on our Café Racer machine.
No latte art performance is the same, with each competitor expressing themselves through the creative patterns they have perfected– usually with an underlying theme or narrative.
With the 2020 championship not too far away and our Warm Up Event just around the corner, we caught up with the current UK latte Art Champion, Will Pitts, to hear the unique story that inspired his winning performance and get his tops tips for nailing an entry.
It’s quite a funny story actually. I didn’t register for the UK Latte Art Championships in time so I was first on the waiting list – basically I didn’t think I would get a spot.
It was ok though, because I had this big cycling trip to focus on which ran the entire length of UK, over 1000 miles.
We arrived in John o’ Groats at the tip of Scotland after an absolute mission when I received an email to say a space had freed up in the Latte Art Championships and did I want to compete?
At that point, I had 10 days of cycling planned followed by 5 days of recovery in Cornwall, leaving just 2 weeks to practice for the event. After coming 3rd in the previous competition, I was thinking – ‘this could be embarrassing!’
However, being on a bike all day is almost like a form of meditation, all you’re doing is thinking. So, I accepted the place in the competition and decided to design the patterns in my head whilst riding.
I was genuinely cycling down past Loch Ness and thought: ‘this has to be a thing; I have to pour the Loch Ness Monster!’
Unfortunately, I didn’t see the actual Loch Ness Monster but that ruins the story a little bit… so the story is – I saw the Loch Ness monster!
Whilst cycling, I planned in my head all the inverts and types of designs in the milk, because to do well in the competition you have to show different styles of latte art and creativity.
It was hard to picture the pattern without a jug in my hand, but I did my best!
From there I developed the rest of the story while traveling down the UK. I used a lobster and bird which I saw when I got into Cornwall - I had to rack my brain for things I could actually draw with milk!
I spent the 10 days cycling fixated on perfecting these designs in my head, so I was really happy when they worked ok when trying them for the first time.
I’d normally give myself a couple of months to prepare for these competitions so this was an intense fortnight.
Luckily, I was practicing alongside Mridul who came third and is very, very good at latte art.
Assembly Coffee kindly let us use their space so I was also able to practice on the same machine we’d be using in the competition, the Sanremo Cafe Racer!
It is still possible to win the competition with something you haven’t created, replicating pictures from Instagram.
But personally, I think it is more interesting to be creative and design new patterns, so if you are a natural storyteller it makes sense to go down that route.
However, if you’re really good at latte art but not good at talking – don’t dwell too much on that part, briefly explain the pattern, smile and have a good time.
Enjoy yourself, the more you stress out the worse you’ll do. Also, it’s better to try and do patterns that you know you can do.
If you go into a competition with a really complex design that you’ve only just mastered, there’s very little chance you’ll be able to do that on the day.
Stick with what you’re good at and make sure you’ve really nailed what you’re doing.
If you plan to compete in this year’s UKLAC join us for our official Warm Up 2020 event on 20th February in London to get hands-on with the Café Racer and get top tips from the country’s best baristas
Tickets are first come, first serve and completely FREE - register on Eventbrite today to get yours before they run out: http://bit.ly/sanremo-warmup
Here's Will's performance