I wanted to make a couple of observations about judging and scoring latte art contests. We’ve done about half a dozen latte art contests in Arizona over the last 6 months and I’ve been involved with a bunch of them. They’re really fantastic and a great way to encourage practice. I would encourage any barista to join in the fun, and if you’re the owner of a coffee shop you should seriously consider hosting a contest at your shop. You can invite Todd Welfelt and myself to judge, or judge the contest yourself. There’s so many ways to organize an event like this. How we have been scoring latte art contests We’ve been scoring based on giving a maximum of 5 points to each of these three categories: Balance & Symmetry: Dividing lines are clean, even, and show no signs of hesitation. Individual elements work well with and complement each other. There is no sense of awkwardness. Harmony between the size of the cup and size of the design. Presentation: Clarity of design Design style Milk texture Originality: Uniqueness of ingredients Personal Flair/Passion (style points) Unique presentation A perfect score for a drink is 15 points. We’ve had two judges at each event and also add up to 10 points for cleanup and preparation. How the World Latte Art Championship scores I found the scoring sheet and rules on the WLAC web site, and I’ll summarize what I found: Two patterns and presented picture identical Contrast between ingredients Harmony, size and position among patterns within cups Creativity of the pattern Successfully achieved level of difficulty Overall appealing look Professional performance (Service skills, confidence, flair) Hospitality skills I really like how specific the WLAC scoring is, but I have to admit it’s best for high level competition. Also, they judge on three drinks (macchiato, latte or cappuccino, and a designer beverage). There’s no way we would score hospitality. Some random thoughts In the beginning we judged based on taste (in addition to other factors). The problem is that if you do that you can’t call it a latte art contest, and taste is very subjective. So we don’t do that any more and I like it this way. It gives all of the observers a chance to enjoy one of the drinks and they don’t all go to waste. We’ve been giving each competitor 5 minutes to make two drinks (anything they want) but during this time they must prepare and clean up their station. About 25% of competitors use more than 5 minutes. We’ve been relaxed about docking points if they’re less than 60 seconds over time. After that, we reduce their score by 5 points for each 60 seconds. Previously, we used to have rigid rules and guidelines however we quickly realized it just complicates something that is supposed to be fun. If you’re interested, you can read the rules we posted for events in the past (#1, #2, and #3). Scoring Sheets If you’re interested, here are the scoring sheets we used at the June 28th Latte Art Throwdown. Scoring Sheet (used by each judge) Judges Tally Sheet At the end of the night we typically hand these out to each competing barista complete with notes from each judge. I hope that these notes help anyone thinking about hosting a latte art competition. This is by no means the only way to hold such an event, and may be too casual for some purposes. Special thanks to Steve Kraus at Press Coffee for hosting frequent events, and to Todd Welfelt for judging along with me and assisting with the rules and scoring sheet creation.