Plate 21 brews up competitionWritten by Brian Bohnert | | email@example.com
Sandy Spang has seen everything from business deals to birthdays. And they’ve all happened inside of her little coffee house.
“I think of it as the community’s living room,” she said. “But it can also be the dining room, office, or whatever they want it to be.”
On June 8, the community’s “living room” will head to Chicago to brew up some competition in an International coffee convention.
Plate 21, located at 3664 Rugby Dr., will send two of its best baristas to Coffee Fest 2012 in Chicago. The event will take place June 8-10 at Navy Pier.
Aside from showcasing all of the latest techniques and equipment in coffee making, the three-day trade show will host its Latte Art Championship that features a 64-bracket, “head to head” competition between participating baristas from around the globe.
The contest will be judged on aesthetic beauty, definition, color infusion, degree of difficulty and creativity and speed, according to the event’s website.
First prize for the Latte Art Championship is $2,500. Second place receives $1,000 and third place receives $500. Three judges will decide the fate of the competitors.
“Latte art is simply just the imprint made by the method used to pour the milk,” Spang said. “There’s nothing automatic about it. It’s all the skill of the barista.”
Representing Plate 21 in the competition are baristas John Amato and Andrew Trumbull.
“I’m proud of our coffee and I’m proud of our baristas and their accomplishments,” Spang said. “Our baristas are very skilled and they all care passionately about making great drinks.”
Amato, who has only served as a barista for a little over a year, was initially surprised by Spang selecting him for the competition. However, his confidence in his skills, as well as the quality of his coffee, is keeping him steadfast in his pursuit of the top prize.
“We provide a higher level of coffee than anywhere else in Toledo and this is an opportunity to showcase that,” Amato said. “We want to raise the standards and expectations of what good coffee is, not just on a local level, but nationally; and, this is proof that we are doing this.”
This will be the second time that Plate 21 attends the competition. In 2011, Spang’s daughter Lily represented the business. While her daughter did not place well in the end, Spang said she hopes Lily’s experience will serve as an edge for Amato and Trumbull.
“She’s able to do a two-pitcher pour called the Double-Rosetta,” Spang said. “It’s difficult because you’re using machines you’ve never used before. So, she knew she had to pull out all of the stops.”
Edge or not, Amato said Coffee Fest is an experience that he is looking forward to, regardless of how the competition pans out.
“It’s an opportunity to learn a lot, see a lot of different things in the world of coffee and to be a part of the culture,” Amato said.
To help Amato and Trumbull hone their skills, Spang offered customers $1 espressos and $1 macchiatos for the two weeks leading up to the event.