Sacramento is losing one of its best baristas to the Air Force Reserves, and to send him off in style, Chocolate Fish Coffee is hosting a latte throw down and barbecue. It is Saturday June 30 at 4 p.m. Chocolate Fish is at the corner of Q and 3rd streets downtown.
It's essentially a friendly competition to see who can do the coolest art with the steamed milk atop lattes and cappuccinos.
In recent years, one of the many developments that distinguishes independent coffee shops from major chains like Starbucks or Peet's is that when you order a latte or cappuccino, you're usually treated to something special with the design of the milk cap. Often it's a stylized tree, a heart or something abstract. It's an aesthetic flourish that doesn't make the coffee taste any better but is an extra nice touch that has become pretty much standard practice at the better independents. You rarely if ever see latte art at Starbucks and Peet's. Maybe it's because most of the coffee orders are to go and the cups have a lid.
Some of the best latte art I've seen in Sacramento has been done by Chocolate Fish's Kyle Baumann, who told me recently he is leaving the business for the Air Force Reserves, which entails many months of training. Not only was he a devoted employee and coffee practitioner, he's an an all-around good guy. I have had many an excellent espresso and flat white at Chocolate Fish.
As for the latte art competition, it should be a lot of fun. Great coffee, good food, and lots of friendly folks saying farewell to one of the city's best baristas. As a small leaflet promoting the event states: "Kyle's last hurrah as a barista and your last chance to challenge him to a latte art thrown down."
The event is open to the public.
Blair Anthony Robertson is The Bee's restaurant critic. Follow him on Twitter, @blarob.