Latte art is war

by Christiaan Mader

Tonight marks Lafayette's first competitive gathering of frothy art conjurers. Latte enthusiasts rejoice.

Latte art by Rêve owner Nathanael Johnson
Photo by Robin May

Latte art — the frothy swirl of cream that gives you visual pep in your perk of morning coffee. It’s an arcane form of graphic nerdery, the sort of skill set that separates the baristas from the luddites who’d draw a creamy spout of espresso with nary thought of design. Despite galaxies worth of coffee shops, latte artists are a rare and prideful breed.

Not surprising, then, that the sacred society of latte artists compete among themselves to discover the best among them. They go head to head, comparing color contrast and fractal geometry in their beverages in cutthroat aesthetic combat.

These sorts of competitions are not uncommon in more sartorial communities like Austin or New Orleans, long accustomed to the delights of coffee snobbery and the charms of esoteric beverage crafts. But Lafayette has only recently — say in the last three to five years — caught up with the world of sommelier coffee. We’re well familiar with bold roasts and cafe au lait, but the notion that latte art can be something worth geeking over is entirely novel to Acadiana palates more accustomed to the utility of a drip percolator.

Now that we have legitimate coffee temples in the way of Rêve Coffee Roasters Downtown, The Lab Hand Crafted Coffe & Comforts, Black Café, Carpe Diem!, Johnson Street Java and so on and so on, it was about time that the acolytes gathered to flex their craft.

To that end, Rêve is hosting Acadiana’s first ever latte art competition this evening at 8 p.m. High priests of latte divination from around Louisiana will test their majiks at Rêve in a competition judged by esteemed photographers Denny Culbert and Philip Gould and Damien Estivez, chieftain of New Orleans coffee tribe Mojo Coffee Roasters.

Contestants will be divided into a tournament bracket and compete head to head in single elimination latte duels to the death. Winner will take home bragging rights, 80 percent of the entry pot, a commemorative poster and the wands of every latte wizard he or she vanquished on the way.

The competition is a $5 pittance to enter and free to observe for curious onlookers. Beer by Bayou Teche will be available to get you good and rowdy — a necessary lubricant for any sporting event.

Sign up at 7 p.m. to compete. Goodies and giveaways by local shops Parish Ink, Red Arrow Workshop, Rukus Skate Shop, The Lab, Mortar & Pestle, Genterie Supply Co., Cellar Salt Co., and Le Canne Smoked Sugar will also be on hand.

For more info hit up Rêve's Facebook Page.