Between seeing Avengers three times over the last four days (some may say I have a problem; I prefer to think Avengers is just that damn good) and entertaining my parents during this weekend’s visit, I was a bit exhausted when I got to work on Monday.
The upside of this? I got to treat myself to coffee.
Because I can be a
somewhat very intense person to begin with, I try to limit how much caffeine I drink to prevent myself from bouncing off the walls. So when I do allow myself a cup, I don’t want to waste it on lousy coffee.
Fortunately for coffee lovers, there’s a new group in Cleveland looking to promote a stronger and more knowledgeable coffee culture within the Northeast Ohio region: Cleveland Brews.
CLE Brews is Cleveland’s newest collective of self-proclaimed coffee geeks that welcomes baristas, roasters, owners, trainers, latte artists, home roasters, drinkers and any enthusiasts who just cannot live without that sweet sweet elixer known as coffee.
At the heart of the collective is the CLE Brews team of Phoenix Coffee Company, Erie Island Coffee Company, Caruso’s Coffee and Red Cedar Coffee, supported by partners like Root Cafe, Dewey’s and Fair Trade USA. Together, they strive to support regional coffee lovers by educating their customer base and creating enthusiasm and respect for coffee and its artisan preparation.
Realizing that it’s better for everyone if they work together, this all-inclusive league measures the strength of their efforts by the number of committed, professional baristas and successful independent coffee shops our region boasts.
This coming Saturday, May 12, CLE Brews is hosting its inaugural event “For The Love of Latte Art” at the Cuyahoga Community College Hospitality Management Center (180 Euclid Avenue, Public Square).
The day-long event kicks off at 1pm with skill-building workshops for both professional and amateur baristas.
These workshops will include hands-on classes on milk texturing and latte art pouring; coffee tastings with professional baristas; and free-time making espresso-based drinks using machines manufactured by the official sponsor of the 2012 United States Barista Championship, Nuova Simonelli.
At 3:30pm those who want to try out their newly honed skills can register for the Latte Art Throwdown, where contestants will go head-to-head with another barista to be judged on the best latte they can pour in three minutes.
A panel of judges featuring David Heilbrunn, President of Coffee Fest who hosts events like these nationwide; Cleveland Yelp’s Cara Lageson; Room Service’s Danielle DeBoe; and The Greenhouse Tavern/Noodlecat’s Chef Jonathon Sawyer will pick the winner of each faceoff until only one barista remains.
Winners of each round will be awarded based on the speed of their latte pouring, the aesthetic beauty and balance, color infusion, definition and degree of difficulty and creativity — with the grand prize winner receiving a Nuova Simonelli Musica commercial-grade espresso machine and automatic entry into Coffee Fest Seattle’s Latte Art Competition.
Latte Art competitors aren’t the only ones who will be having fun. Coffee enthusiasts and audience members will not just be entertained by an exciting evening of coffee making, they’ll also have a chance to bid for the winning lattes and be entered into giveaways.
Tickets are available for spectators, workshop attendees and throwdown competitors at http://clebrews.eventbrite.com and range in price from $5 for audience members to $10 for throwdown participants and $20 for workshop attendees (there’s a discounted $25 package for workshop+throwdown participation).
Another reason to attend and participate is that all proceeds from the latte competition will benefit ASOBAGRI Coop Disaster Relief in Huehuetenango, Guatemala.
Last September, ASOBAGRI, a Guatemalan coffee coop that survived 20+ years of political and economic stability, was ravaged when torrential rains took out the hillside next to the coop’s warehouse, destroying its facility, nearby homes and killing many.
Through a partnership between CLE Brews and the nonprofit Cafe Femenino, funds will be raised to assist them in rebuilding.
So if you want to elevate your coffee savvy by learning about lattes from some of Cleveland’s best baristas, head down to the Hospitality Management Center on Public Square this Saturday to welcome this new group to Cleveland.
Note: Event logo and ASOBAGRI photo courtesy of clebrews.org and Phoenix Coffee logo from facebook.com/PhoenixCoffee.