Coffee and community: The Dusty Bookshelf hosts The Latte Art Throwdown

The judges, including special guest Jerome Tang, deliberate over latte art. The competition had six rounds. (Cole Bertelsen | Collegian Media Group)

The Latte Art Throwdown was a tournament-style competition hosted at The Dusty Bookshelf on Tuesday. Competitors from Manhattan, Lawrence, Topeka and the Kansas City area traveled to compete for prizes and bragging rights. 

Judging criteria included symmetry of design, use of space in the mug, contrast between milk and coffee and overall impression. The six rounds were as follows:

Round One: Oat-milk heart in a 12-ounce mug

Round Two: Whole-milk tulip in a six-ounce mug

Round Three: Cortado free pour

Round Four: Whole-milk rosetta in a 12-ounce mug

Round Five: Free pour in a six-ounce mug to determine third and fourth place

Round Six: Free pour in a six-ounce mug to determine first and second place

Jerome Tang, Kansas State’s men’s basketball head coach, was chosen to judge the competition alongside Ben Motley and Rachel Motley from Arrow Coffee Co. and Nat Bjerke-Harvey and Alison Bjerke-Harvey from Piccalilli Farm. While Tang said he didn’t know what to expect from the competitors, he was thoroughly impressed by everyone’s performance. 

“It was incredible,” Tang said. “I learned so much about lattes and the skill you have to have with the pour and the science of the milk and the difference between oat milk and whole milk. It was just incredible to see the talent level of everybody here today.”

Kara Othick, manager of The Dusty Bookshelf, helped put the throwdown together and said she was happy with the number of people interested in the event.

Prizes for winners of the competition included various coffee makers, such as a pour-over machine and an AeroPress. Additionally, Acme shirts, Intelligentsia coffee and more were raffled off to community members.

“We’re just excited to be here, excited to be a place for the community,” Othick said. “We just want to be a place where people can come. Obviously Aggieville right now, it’s kind of difficult to get here, so it’s great that people are willing to come and show up to see something different.”

Lyndie Copeland, barista at Circle Coffee in Topeka, said she was happy to see events like the throwdown emerge in Manhattan.

“I’m really proud of everyone who put [the throwdown] on,” Copeland said. “They’ve really done a really great job, and it’s cool that they’re bringing all this to Manhattan. We have a heart in Topeka to show kindness to our community through creative ventures like coffee and fun events. It’s cool that they’re doing it here.”

Ryane Bieker, sophomore in entrepreneurship, said she loved how much of the community supported the event.

“This is highlighting my favorite thing about Manhattan,” Bieker said. “It’s very communal. What they said about bringing the coffee community together — I really love that.” 

Olivia Eby, sophomore in business administration, echoed Bieker.

“It’s a really fun vibe in here,” Eby said. “Everyone’s just excited about the art.”

After six rounds of latte art, David Vincent, owner of Circle Coffee in Topeka, was announced the winner of the Latte Art Throwdown. 

“I feel amazing,” Vincent said. “I was really nervous the entire time and I kept wanting to lose my round so I could just be a spectator, but I kept advancing. It was a lot of fun. I’m really happy that there was such an awesome turnout.”

Vincent said he was impressed with the work The Dusty Bookshelf put into the throwdown.

“It’s an amazing event,” Vincent said. “I love that they’re doing this for the community. This type of stuff should be rewarded with business and dollars.”