World Barista Champion Hidenori Izaki Judges the Latte Art Throwdown

I love latte art. It’s amazing how baristas can create beautiful images by pouring steamed milk into a cup of espresso. I’ve seen flowers, hearts, and once, a 3D panda. I thought that it’s all just fun and games. It turns out it’s quite competitive and there’s such a thing as the Latte Art Throwdown.

A Latte Art Throwdown is a competition amongst baristas where they have to create latte art given limited time. Participants compete in pairs and the winners go on to the next pairing until one winner is announced. This year, baristas from all over the Philippines converged in Pasay City, where they were judged by a panel of celebrities, including World Barista champion Hidenori Izaki.

Izaki is the first Asian to win the World Barista Championship, a global competition inviting baristas from 60 countries. After his win in 2014, he started the Samurai Coffee Experience, an international coffee consulting company where he educates people about coffee and conducts professional barista training, coffee roasting, and product development. Izaki is also a technical consultant for an espresso machinery company.

But his illustrious career in coffee didn’t happen overnight. He was in and out of school, and was in London when he realized that he needed to finish his education to succeed. He worked at Maruyama Coffee, a cafe chain and roasting company, then joined World Barista Championship twice before winning in Rimini, Italy in 2014.

For the Latte Art Throwdown, Izaki was joined by former MTV VJ and chef Donita Rose, chefs Jackie and Rolando Laudico, and barista Silvester Samonte to judge the baristas’ latte art.

The baristas created beautiful latte art using Jolly Cow Fresh Milk and Nuova Simonelli espresso machines, which are exclusively distributed by Allegro Beverage, the preferred end-to-end coffee solutions provider in restaurants, hotel chains, and third wave coffee shops in the Philippines.

It was an intense competition, one where the baristas were pressured to create artistic lattes. One wrong move could ruin the entire thing, but all of them didn’t break under pressure. Emerging victorious was Andy Abergas Luyugoy from Toby’s Estate, and he went home with an espresso machine and other prizes.

Like all art forms, we only get to see the finished product, never knowing how hard it was to perfect it. I’ll make sure to acknowledge the great work our baristas do in coffee shops. Who knows? We might have our first Filipino World Barista champion soon.

This post is in partnership with Allegro Beverage. The event was sponsored by Allegro Beverage, Fly Ace Corporation (the official distributor of Lotus Biscoff biscuits and Jolly Cow Fresh Milk), and Coffee Project. For more information on Allegro, visit its website or follow them on their Facebook page.

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