A big crowd packed Joe on East 13th Street last night for New York’s first inter-cafe barista showdown, as representatives from some of the city’s top coffee houses competed in a Latte Art Throwdown to benefit American Red Cross relief efforts in Burma and China. In fact, so many spectators turned out to watch the competition – which was simulcast on the back wall – that they had to send out for more beer three times, “devolving from Sierra to cans of Bud Light,” according to event organizer Erin Meister.
To keep the playing field level, designs were strictly limited to rosettas – no latte lions allowed – and judges rated baristas not on taste, but symmetry, contrast, detail, and style. In the end, only one could claim the crown for most artsy barista, and that was “Danger” Dan Griffin of Williamsburg’s El Beit. Besides the fame, glory and groupies, Griffin walked with a $300 gift certificate to the fancy restaurant Eleven Madison Park, donated by Danny Meyer, and attendees raised about $650 for the Red Cross.