Counting Down to WOC Berlin with Latte Art Champion Christopher Abrahams May 13 2019

The World Latte Art Championship highlights artistic expression in a competition platform that challenges the barista in an on-demand performance.

For the preliminary round of the championship, baristas produce a single creative latte pattern at the Art Bar, then move to the WLAC stage to create two identical free-pour lattes and two identical designer lattes (which allow etching and decoration). Scores from the Art Bar and Stage are combined, and the top 12 qualify for the semi-final round, where competitors make two matching sets of different free-pour latte patterns, and one matching set of free-pour macchiatos. The top six semi-finals competitors qualify for the final round, where competitors make two different matching sets of free-pour latte patterns, and one matching set of designer lattes. The top-scoring competitor in the final round is declared the World Latte Art Champion.

Baristas are judged based on visual attributes, creativity, identical patterns in the pairs, contrast in patterns, and overall performance.

(Christopher Abrahams with SCASA chairman, Bernard Muneri)

Thabang Klainbaas Maluleka and Christopher Abrahams (both from Ciro Full Service Beverage Co.) will be representing South Africa in the World Cup Tasters Championship and the World Latte Art Championship respectively, happening 6-8 June in Berlin.

The 2019 Berlin World Coffee Championships will also feature South Africa's Christopher Abrahams, competing in the Latte Art World Championship, more on Christopher's preparations to follow.

Both Christopher and Thabang's disciplines start on Thursday 6 June between 09:30 and 16:30 with LIVE streaming covered by World Coffee Events (more updates on their sets to follow).

We sat down with national Latte Art champion Christopher Abrahams to hear how his preparations were going for worlds.

How has your preparations been going for Berlin thus far? And is it different to how you prepared for Nationals?
My preparation hasn’t being going as great as I’d like it to, but things are looking positive. I’m definitely preparing more than I did for Nationals. Currently, I’m practicing for 2 hours a day and I’ll be doing 4 hours a day from this week onwards. I have also been quite fortunate, having a huge amount of support from Ciro Beverage Solutions! It truly is a privilege! I am truly grateful and would like to say thank you to Lani Snyman, Paul Hanlon, Darragh Brown and a special thank you to Johan Gobbelaar, who has kept me motivated to strive for excellence!

When do you leave and what creature comforts will you be taking with you to Germany?
I leave with the Ciro team on the 3rd of June. I find a lot of comfort through prayer and a certain genre of music. It allows me to relax and forget about any hint of stress and pressure that I may be experiencing.

What extra magic can we expect from Christopher Abrahams at the World Latte Art Championship? Have you been doing extra or different training?
I must be honest, I cannot say that I’ll be doing anything spectacular on the world stage. There are very few occasions where a competitor feels like they’ll be doing something truly amazing on stage. Spending months doing the same routine, may become a bit monotonous at times. Although, as time passes, a few small things arise, which allow us to improve every little detail. This usually generates a bit of comfort, causing one to realise that he or she is becoming just a few steps closer and closer to perfection. I will, however, say that my performance should be a lot better and that I will be giving it my all in hope of success! I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on a few dragging techniques. It’s not an easy thing to perfect, especially when the design is details. The dragging technique is usually applied to get the design to look as realistic as possible, without the use of etching tool. So, it requires endless hours of practice, while continuously working with different milk brands. I am really excited to see what the outcome is going to be and my main objective is to have a good time on stage, while achieving what I’ve practiced.

Who are you looking forward to seeing and meeting in Berlin?
I’m really looking forward to seeing a few of my friends who competed with me the previous year in Brazil. It is always good to catch up and to continue learning from each other.

What are you looking forward to pouring at Worlds? Or which part of the Championships (routine) are you looking forward to the most?
I’m really looking forward to every moment that I’ll have to pour latte art. The free pour designs are always tricky, so perfecting them on the day of my performance, would be amazing! It is such a fun and exciting experience, pouring latte art. There is the opening line that helps one get momentum, followed by the “first pour”. Your heart rate slowly begins to drop and the anxiety begins to subside. Once you’ve passed this period, everything usually flows and most of the time, in my case… I tend to forget about the entire performance, until the moment I raise my hand and say “time!”

Tell us a bit more about your coaches or mentors, who are they and what have they been helping you with?
I don’t have any coaches at this point. I have been receiving some guidance from Alhenrico Thomas and Byron Keet (previous SA Latte Art Champions), which has been great! I’ve also received a few tips from the previous Dutch latte art champion, Anouk, which is amazing! Allowing me to see things from a global perspective. Other than that, I have no actual couch. I prefer working on my own, and feel that I’ve been more successful doing so, with the little bit of advice from others. The support and advice from my wife, Shannon Millar Abrahams, has been phenomenal! She is my toughest critic, but seems to be quite accurate with her judgement and continues to be my biggest fan.

You’ve competed at Worlds before, how is it different this time round?
I’ve been putting more effort into this year’s preparation, so I’m feeling a lot more confident. I am not too focussed on placing at a specific ranking, but I’m purely focussed on perfecting what I plan to do on stage. I hope to build on that and will see where it gets me in the future.

As you know anything can happen on the day, but what would you do if you won the World Latte Art Championship?
Hahahaha I must be honest, it is a bit “Far Fetched”, but would be great! J It would be an honour….I cannot actually tell you what I’d do for sure, but it be a great opportunity to travel and teach people about latte art. Winning a world latter art championship would be amazing, but I know that I’m not ready to reach that point yet. I believe that it would take me at least another 3-5 years to get to that level.

The best advice received thus far going into a competition of this magnitude?
The best advice, is always to love what you do, live it, eat it, sleep, believe in it and the rest will follow. I feel that the minute you’re competing or doing anything else for that matter, on a more competitive level, we, as humans, tend to generate unnecessary pressure on ourselves, often forgetting the importance of passion and purpose. There will always be a certain goal or objective, but once, we’re able to forget about expectation, things usually fall into place.

The best of luck Christopher, South Africa is behind you! Any message you would like to give to your supporters?
I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who will be supporting me. It really means a lot to me. There are so many latte artists, who are blessed with amazing creative talents in South Africa, and I am privileged to have the opportunity of not only representing South Africa, but also representing them! Therefore, I will be doing the very best that I can to make you all proud as South Africans within the Coffee industry!

Photos: The Coffee Magazine