Our newest team member, Nick Rayer, was set to compete at this years Coffee Fest Latte Art Competition in Anaheim, California. We would first like to say how proud we are of Nick for representing Pair Cupworks so valiantly.
Nick successfully passed the first round where he was neck to neck with the other competitor who poured beautifully to say the least. In the end, Nick's pour showed more complexity that gave him the upper hand. With that, he was set to move on to the second round of this competition the following day.
After a night of celebration, spirits were high going into the second round where Nick would face Donald Perdomo. Also known as the Barefoot Barista, Donald had recently placed second at the 2021 Coffee Fest Latte Art Competition in Atlanta earlier this year so the competition was fierce. Unfortunately, Nick's milk texture was a little too thin and caused his pour to lack some symmetry and clarity. Donald's pour was a bit more symmetric and high contrasting which handed him the win.
Nick did such a great job with his first competition and we could not be prouder of him. Competing for us is such an invaluable aspect of this industry because it lets us connect with our friends from all around the country. It is also a vital tool for our baristas to develop and hone their skills; it also doesn't hurt that competing is a blast!
Here are some words from Nick after the competition:
(EP = Eddy Padilla | NR = Nick Rayer)
EP - How do you feel coming out of your first competition?
NR - The competition was definitely inspiring because I wanted to put it off for another year or so before competing just because I wasn't too confident in myself. What I came to realize is that everyone, even the best are still nervous and are not always going to be pouring their best. It's inspiring to see all the people that you do see on Instagram that pour really well, just seeing them in person and how they all compete, it's a very healthy environment.
EP - What did you learn from this experience?
NR - The biggest thing I learned is that people who normally pour amazing things, or that we only see the best online, nerves also get to them in a competition setting. So it makes me feel better about future competitions that everyone is also feeling nervous and that it's a natural thing to feel.
EP - Can you walk us through the process of practicing to actually competing?
NR - I actually didn't do much practicing because I didn't want to overthink it before I went in to it. I knew that if I wanted to replicate a design exactly by practicing it over and over again, that if I made a mistake then that would stress me out so I wanted to take a different approach where if I make a mistake, I can be flexible and still end with a good pour.
With actually competing, I know shakiness is an issue so I wanted to make sure I didn't have coffee and that I actually ate a banana and dark chocolate.
EP - Any tips for baristas wanting to do this? Tips on stress, equipment?
NR - Being nervous is a natural thing when competing so doing anything to ease that goes a long way. As far as equipment, use what you're comfortable with or use pitchers that are going to aide in the style of pours you want to achieve.
I would just encourage everyone to try it. From the outside looking in, competition may be intimidating because you're going up against a superstar latte artist but when you get there it's a lot more down to earth and there seems to be a bit more of a level playing field. So yeah, I would recommend everyone try it.