Coming Right Up: Battle of the Baristas

By Shannon Fischer

Put down your lattes and step away from the Starbucks: the 2nd annual White Chrome* Barista Competition takes place this month, replete with free tastings, espresso machine demos, and aroma tests.

Competing baristas have one hour of warm-up — the results of which are free to the public — and will be graded on drink skills (i.e. espresso and latte art), overall coffee knowledge, and a final creative masterpiece: the signature drink. The winner walks away with a top-of-the-line piece of espresso equipment (last year, the prize was a $2,000 Rancilio espresso machine).

The event is meant to celebrate not just local baristas, but Boston’s coffee scene — which, as event organizer and Flat Black co-owner Jeff Chatlos explains, is definitely on the rise. Independent cafes and roasters have appeared en masse across the city over the past few years. Inquire about your drink at the right stop — say, Crema, Diesel, Wired Puppy, or a host of others in and around Boston — and your barista will be delighted at the chance to wax eloquent about bean origin, roast profile and Fair Trade.

Last year, 11 baristas from a half dozen of Boston’s top cafes competed to win; Chatlos hopes to see as many or more participate this year, though he plans to cap the number of individual participants at 12 (there is a limit to the number of espressos even an experienced coffee judge can take).

Where: The Ledge Kitchen & Drinks, 2261 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester
When: October 23, 2:00 p.m.

Free and open to the public. Donations will go to the Greater Boston Food Bank.

*The term White Chrome means the subtle sheen on perfectly steamed milk: velvet smooth, without a trace of visible bubbles.