For some, coffee’s a lifeline. For others, it’s a ritual. And for a growing number, it’s an elixir as distinguished and subtle as fine wine.

Whatever your preference, whether supporting fair trade and direct relationships with farmers or just enjoying your neighborhood Starbucks, you should know we have an incredible area opportunity for coffee education. Forerunners like Counter Culture and Carrboro Coffee consistently open their doors to break down the walls of high-brow caffeine consumption while bringing appreciation and understanding to the masses. After taking a few of their classes and becoming more familiar with fruity and chocolatey notes, you may realize the worst part of waking up was actually the Folgers in your cup.

This leads me to latte art. Is there actual criteria for what constitutes good latte art? Turns out there is.

On Thursday evening, Carrboro Coffee hosted one of their infamous latte art throwdowns, the Barista Bash, where some of the Triangle’s best baristas competed in a tournament to see who had the best touch when creating beautiful rosettas and tulips under pressure.

Those criteria?

  • Definition and clarity of design
  • Use of space (no big empty spaces)
  • Contrast of the foam vs. color of the crema—distinct? sharp? blurry?
  • Degree of difficulty
  • Balance or position in the cup—is it centered?
  • Symmetry of the design—how balanced are the different sides or areas?

See if you can give it a shot and be the judge. We’ll show you the contenders, followed by the winner of each round.

Tim Morris from Durham’s Caffe Bellezza took the top prize.

“I am so proud to be a part of the Triangle’s growing specialty coffee community,” he said. “There are so many amazing people and great coffee in this area—and it’s great when we can come together in friendly competition.”