Hearts for Hurricane Relief Latte Art Throwdown by Steve Willingham

Last night, members of the Oklahoma coffee community came together for “Hearts for Hurricane Relief,” a Latte Art Throwdown presented by Green Country Throwdowns and Elemental Coffee to aid relief efforts in response to Hurricane Harvey.  

Caleb, Tanner, Callie, and Steve all participated, but the competition was fierce. Ultimately Ben from Topeca Coffee took home the gold. Congratulations, Ben!

Tanner Ruminer Latte Art Throwdown.jpg

Tanner Ruminer

Representing Clarity Coffee

Callie Palmer Latte Art Throwdown.jpg

Callie Palmer

Representing Clarity Coffee

Caleb Savage Latte Art Throwdown.jpg

Caleb Savage

Representing Clarity Coffee

What is a Latte Art Throwdown?

n a typical throwdown (aka pour down or latte art slam), baristas buy-in to enter the competition and the winner walks away with bragging rights and everyone else’s money. In last night’s event, all proceeds were donated to One America Appeal, “a joint appeal by all five living former American Presidents to encourage their fellow citizens to support recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey.”

These events are a popular way for baristas all over the world to get together and show off one of the most easily recognizable skills in the coffee trade, latte art. While the rules change from event to event, typically two competitors face off by steaming and pouring a randomly selected basic latte design: a heart, tulip, or rosetta, into a randomly selected cup size: macchiato, cappuccino, or latte. Throwdowns are almost always an exciting and fun event for all and are a great chance for coffee fans, regulars, and friends to hang out and support your favorite barista! Generally, throwdowns are a lighthearted way for baristas to compete with each other and just hang out with friends, as compared to other more serious coffee events like the US or World Barista, Brewers, or Roasters Championships. We held a latte art throwdown last year. You can find a little recap of our event here.

Elemental Coffee Latte Art Throwdown.jpg

About One America Appeal

While initiated in response to Hurricane Harvey through the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation in Houston, the One America Appeal has been expanded to include those affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. From the appeal, “All donations made today will go to help victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida. In Texas, monies will go to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund focusing on the greater Houston region, and the Rebuild Texas Fund assisting communities across the state. In Florida, monies will go to the Florida Disaster Fund, which is the state’s official private fund to assist the state’s communities as they respond to and recover from destructive storms. We are actively exploring similar arrangements for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.”

We were thrilled to be able to sponsor the event with prizes for the winner, and we’re thankful for all of our friends who helped make this event happen! Shout outs: Oklahoma Shirt Company, Green Country Throwdowns, Anthem Brewing Company, District House, KLLR Coffee, DNA Designs, Saint Anthony Industries, Barista Magazine, Handground and Chemex Coffeemaker.

New Artist - Catherine Freshley by Steve Willingham

Last night, Catherine Freshley came by to hang her art at Clarity, and it's remarkable how it brightens our space. The paintings feature landscapes, plains and big skies, a look at Oklahoma from a Portland native. 

I heard Catherine say in an interview on Enid City Connections that when she moved to Oklahoma she was "overcome by how flat it is and how huge the sky is." This is the inspriation for her landscapes. I asked her a bit more about it: "My paintings always have a low horizon line -- I like that from a composition perspective and I am just more interested in the sky than the land. I want my paintings to be plausible, but I'm certainly not going for realism; more than all the details of the grass or painting a cloud that is scientifically accurate, I want to capture what it feels like to be out in these beautiful, open spaces."

Prairie Summer Sunset (Photo courtesy of Catherine Freshley)

Prairie Summer Sunset (Photo courtesy of Catherine Freshley)

Catherine paints from photographs she takes while out on the open road. She considers her paintings a documentation of the passing beauty of a moment in nature. "I feel compelled to preserve our beautiful, everyday scenes by painting them. The way I see it, I am just using a skill that I have to translate a fleeting moment that has already been created (by Mother Nature, God, whomever) to something more permanent. I think for that reason, I don't get attached to my paintings because I don't feel that they are of me."

Red Dirt Road #3 (Photo courtesy of Catherine Freshley)

Red Dirt Road #3 (Photo courtesy of Catherine Freshley)

Catherine moved to Enid three years ago, and says it has been great for her art career. "I have clearly been inspired by my surroundings" she says. We asked a little more about Enid, obviously jumping to our favorite question: "We have one Starbucks and two local coffee shops." She frequents Five80 (where our friends at Copper Tap roast) and DaVinci's. She says, "They are both super supportive of the community and both have a nice atmosphere and, of course, good coffee." Sounds like our kind of people.

Catch Catherine Freshley's art here over the next two months. Take your time and enjoy it.

Kuma Coffee Roasters by Caleb Savage

With a singular focus of sourcing and roasting the highest quality coffees, Seattle’s Kuma Coffee never disappoints. We had the pleasure of tasting a few samples from Kuma a couple weeks ago and are excited to share with you a little bit more about Kuma alongside their Ethiopia Chelelektu.  

ORIGINS TO ORIGIN

Kuma’s founder, Mark Barany has been around coffee since the mid-90s when he and his parents moved to Nairobi, Kenya as missionaries. “I learned to play rugby. I learned to speak Swahili. But most importantly, I learned I loved African coffee,” reads Mark’s letter on Kuma’s website. After a few years as a barista and later as a hobby roaster, selling to friends and local stores, Kuma ramped up production in 2009 with “a desire to make something available that wasn’t before in Seattle: high scoring, super specialty coffee that is roasted really well.”  Out of this desire, Kuma has “grown to sourcing most of our volume at origin, and even buying green coffee for other roasters,” says Peter Mark Ingalls, who we spoke to for this article.  This relationship with farmers has been essential in the development of Kuma as a specialty roaster.

Peter Mark Ingalls (left) and Mark Barany (Photo courtesy of Kuma Coffee)

Peter Mark Ingalls (left) and Mark Barany (Photo courtesy of Kuma Coffee)

ROASTING AND SEATTLE

Kuma roasts on a Loring Kestrel 35k for their friends and wholesale partners in Seattle and around the US, so they recommend finding Kuma in Seattle at some of their cafe partners like: Milstead & Co., Ada’s Technical Books, Mr. West, Tougo, Empire, Convoy Coffee, or Sea Wolf Bakers. Kuma also recommends brunch at Porkchop & Co. followed by a walk around Discovery Park alongside the Puget Sound.  

Staff Joel Harrison and Christine Esparolini cupping production (Photo courtesy of Kuma Coffee)

Staff Joel Harrison and Christine Esparolini cupping production (Photo courtesy of Kuma Coffee)

COFFEES TO ANTICIPATE

From Peter Mark: “I think our Colombians are really top notch. We work hard on sourcing all of our origins, but our Colombians are super dialed in. We travel there each year with Azahar Coffee and visit some of the farmers that grow our coffee. These are pristine farms, tiny, like 1-8 hectares, high up in the mountains, usually hovering around 2000 meters above sea level. The farmers take such pride in their coffee, and do such a pro job. They do all their own fermentation and drying as well as growing the crop, unlike most other origins. This is hands on all the way. We love meeting with them, and paying them a serious premium for their excellent work. Colombian coffees are some of the most complex cupping coffees out there for me, I’m super proud of them and look forward to roasting and selling them every winter.”

We’re always excited about serving Kuma at the shop. As always, we’ll have the Ethiopia Chelelektu on Espresso and Chemex Pourover. If you’re interested in checking out the crazy complexities of this coffee, try it out both ways!

Dapper & Wise Roasters by Caleb Savage

“If the idea work hard, play hard was intended to be both ideas in one action, then that would be a day in the life at Dapper & Wise.”  Founded in 2013 by Evan Aldrete and Tyler Geel, Dapper & Wise seeks to bridge the gap between farmer and customer.  We’re excited to have them back in the shop and got to hear from Aubrey Mills to learn more about what they value, their cafe and coffee lab, and their friends in Portland!

"Our goal at Dapper & Wise is to source and roast the best coffees we can find, to keep inventing new ways to treat our employees and coffee producers better, to be funny slightly more often than we are serious, to consistently offer the tastiest coffees and beverages in our cafes, to be at minimum very nice to everyone who walks in our doors, to teach our friends and customers about coffee in a nice and unpretentious way, and to have fun while we are doing all of those things. It’s a long goal with a lot of commas and dependent clauses, but we think it’s worth it."

Photo Courtesy of Dapper & Wise Roasters

Photo Courtesy of Dapper & Wise Roasters

These priorities come through loud and clear in their cafe, where “you can always find a barista behind the bar who knows all of their coffee stuff but will talk to you about YA novels or tintypes instead.”  From the design of the shop to their espresso offerings and seasonal drink menu, you’ll always find something that’s interesting and exciting as well as something a little more approachable.

Shared Knowledge

With a desire to always gather and send out knowledge about their craft and the world around them as well as providing a more accessible space to try out and learn more about specialty coffee, Dapper & Wise’s Coffee Lab offers classes for home brewing and home espresso, baristas and wholesale partners, as well as cool topics like palate development and roasting classes!

Photo Courtesy of Dapper & Wise Roasters

Photo Courtesy of Dapper & Wise Roasters

A Dapper & Wise Portland

“To give an honest-to-goodness shout-out to our neighbors, Pok-Pok, they make some of the best Northern Thai in the nation. I mean they are actually, nationally ranked and we are so stoked to have easy access to their fish-sauce wings. Woodblock Chocolate is an awesome little space you should check out if you’re ever in the area. They not only make exquisite chocolate but they do a great job of telling the story of where their cocoa comes from and how your purchase is literally changing lives in other countries. Now that I have gotten started I have realized there are too many amazing small-businesses to name. Just come on out here, we’ll show you around.”

An ideal Dapper & Wise coffee is balanced, offering the natural complexities of the coffee up front and lingers like sugar, making the second sip “a must”.  We totally get that from both the Kenya Kiangoi and Ethiopia Guji Dubisa we have on bar over the next couple days.  Aubrey recommends patience with the Dubisa to let the coffee cool to mouth temperature. “This is one of those versatile coffees that can sit center stage for you and your coffee-loving friend to analyse or it can play the supporting role, warming your morning as you get to work.”  

Be sure to check out Dapper & Wise on Instagram and Twitter while you try out some of their offerings here at the shop!