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We're about to ruin your latte ☕️

Winning barista Alex Opinsky of Anchorhead Coffee pours a tulip design earlier this summer
📸: Salena Garcia


Ever order a latte at a local coffee shop and notice the foamy design adorning its top? That’s latte art, and baristas from all over Seattle meet up every now and then to see who does it best.

We went to one of those competitions at Zoka Coffee & Tea in Green Lake last week (watch our Instagram story with all the drama here). When the tournament started, all the competing baristas’ art looked the same to us: swirly, pretty, and…uh…foamy?

So, we were confused: What separates “meh” latte art from a pour worthy of a $1,000 first-place prize? The winning barista from that night, Alex Opinsky of Anchorhead Coffee, and Zoka CEO and founder Jeff Babcock (he judged the competition) gave us the scoop.

Judges at latte art competitions don’t taste the lattes. It’s all about the looks, and they’re looking for some pretty specific stuff. Get ready to become your next latte’s biggest critic:

  • Contrast: When baristas make a latte, they add foamy white milk to dark brown espresso in two stages. Alex told us the first pour mixes espresso and milk to create a base — the canvas for the art. The second pour adds the actual design. The base and the art should have a nice contrast in color, and Jeff said that comes down to how well the barista “orchestrates” that first mixing stage.
  • Texture: The mixing also determines how smooth the final cup of art is. What’s ideal? Jeff said it should be almost the texture of ice cream, nice and velvety. Watch out for big bubbles; those are bad news.
  • Balance: The finished design should be centered in the middle of the cup and symmetrical (though some strong designs, like the “swan,” are not).
  • Beauty: This one’s pretty simple. Jeff said judges look for “how gorgeous it is, overall.”

And speaking of beauty, what does the best latte art actually look like? For that and more, head to theevergrey.com. And if you want to order up some quality latte art for yourself: Alex pours at Anchorhead Coffee at Olive Way and Seventh Avenue. Jeff recommends the latte art at Zoka, of course. Seattle’s Espresso Vivace is known citywide for its latte art legacy. And if you’re looking for something a little different, Moore Coffee’s lattes are just adorable. Thanks to reader Luiz Humberto Melchert Marques for telling us about the competition!

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  • It’s Jenny vs. Cary — officially. The results from our King County primary election were certified yesterday, and Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon are moving on to the general election for Seattle mayor. Nikkita Oliver — who finished just 1,170 votes behind Cary — didn’t endorse either of them when she bowed out of the race. But the attorney, teacher, and slam poet has already done a ton to shake things up. Next steps? Look for your general election ballot. It’ll be mailed to you on October 18, ballot drop boxes open October 19, and election day is November 7. (King County Elections)
  • …And those aren’t the only results rolling in. Back in June, we told you about how the City of Seattle asked locals for their ideas on how it should spend $2 million. The winning proposals have been announced — so many spiffy new crosswalks! 🙌 And Seattle’s City Council passed a law that’ll keep landlords from turning renters away based on their criminal records (with a couple exceptions).
  • White power groups in the PNW. They exist, and there’s enough of them to fill a slideshow. (Seattle PI)
  • ‘Bus therapy’ on the 7. Want to feel good about your gritty city? Read this story about Nathan Vass, an exceptionally awesome Seattle Metro bus driver. He gives advice, he reassures riders, and one man even credits him for saving his life. All that, and he keeps a blog and produces films to share his stories. ❤️ (The Seattle Times)
  • 2,000 people showed up for these gyros. The Halal Guys started as a New York City hot dog cart, and its first Seattle location opened last week to quite the crowd. What makes it different from your average gyro spot? They serve up halal food, which means it’s made according to Islamic law. (The Seattle Globalist)
  • ‘Don’t f**k Nazis.’ Dan Savage, Seattle’s go-to sex columnist, had a particularly passionate response in his Love Letter of The Day on Monday, and it’s…well, it’s certainly not G-rated. (The Stranger)


Yup — we’re looking for two awesome people to join our team: a storytelling producer to help us live like we live here, and a social storytelling editor to help us and our sister publication The New Tropic spark great conversations. 💪

Want to apply? Know someone we should meet? Share out the applications linked above and send any questions to our cofounder, Anika Anand, at [email protected].

Have a good one, all. — The Evergrey

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