Flint barista to showcase her skills at international latte art competition

Flint barista to showcase her skills at international latte art competition

FLINT, MI — A local barista will soon be heading to San Antonio, Texas to compete in the Latte Art World Championship Open this weekend.

Tiff Sommers, a co-owner at Café Rhema in downtown Flint, said she is excited to represent the city in this year’s competition with participants from all over the world.

“I think people don’t realize that Flint has a coffee scene too,” Sommers said. “So it is pretty exciting to tell people that I’m from Flint, Michigan. I love being able to represent our city. There’s some really good things happening in coffee downtown.”

The competition features a single-elimination 64-party tournament where participants have a minute and a half to produce a free-pour drink. The competition is held over a three-day period from June 17-19.

The top three finishers will all receive cash prizes from $2,500 to $1,000, according to the Coffee Fest website.

Judges base their scores off seven different criteria: speed, balance/symmetry, color distribution, line clarity, creativity/difficulty, execution and presentation.

Latte art became a passion of Sommers shortly after starting to work at Café Rhema, located at 432 Saginaw St., nearly eight years ago.

She started competing at local coffee shops around Michigan, and gained confidence when she placed second at a local competition.

“After that I said, ‘You know, I am going to do this,’” Sommers said. “I started seeing a difference in my art and it became a passion of mine.”

A lot goes into making the perfect latte: steady hands, a good espresso shot, just the right steam and consistency make a perfect palate. Then, its all up to the pour, Sommers said.

Café Rhema does latte art on all their latte orders, Sommers said. It helps contribute to the experience of going to a coffee shop and getting good customer service, she said.

Café Rhema co-owner Joshua Spencer will be traveling along with Sommers to the Coffee Fest. He said competing in events like this on a national and international stage help change the negative image of Flint.

“Our idea here in Flint was to bring craft coffee to the area,” Spencer said. “We encourage all of our staff to keep improving at the craft. … Just like a good bartender is going to know to craft a drink — that’s the same way that we treat craft coffee.

“Now Tiff can go and stand on stage and say she’s from Flint, Michigan. This gives people a positive view of Flint and make people turn their heads.”

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