Latte art competitions are loud, cramped, and tons of fun. Exactly what would be expected of an event fuelled by exceptional coffee and inhabited by off-duty baristas. They often involve zany rules, there is sometimes food, and there is fairly frequently beer. But all of these regards, Milk Money hit it out of the park.
An event created to raise money for the Dukunde Kawa Cooperative, a body which represents 2000 small coffee producers in Rwanda's Northern Province. All proceeds from Milk Money went to the purchase of a pasteurising machine, which will allow coffee producers to make a tertiary income from milk production during the majority months of the year in which coffee cannot be harvested or sold.
Milk Money was much more about community and coming together than about competition. In doing so it may have highlighted some of the reasons behind why we compete in the first place, but on the surface, it was only ever concerned with raising money for a good cause, and with being a ton of fun for all involved.
Taking in players in teams of two, the competition itself was split into four rounds: In the first round, pairs competed with regular cups and milk jugs, and were only asked to pick their choice from a pair of oversized shutter shades or a pair of bulging eyeball glasses. A winning team was decided by three judges and the winners moved onto the next round, where they were invited to take a 'mystery vessel' from a box, and one team member had to pour into this vessel while the other held it. Vessels included a dog bowl, a coconut mug, and a muffin pan.
The winners of the second round progressed to a round pouring from a giant one litre mug, again while their teammate held the mug, and in the fourth round, they two teams of finalists battled it out pouring milk blind folded. And The Bee Steamers, Josh and Mascha of Humblebee Coffee took out first place.
On top of giving proceeds to a wonderful charity which will no doubt benefit Australian coffee in turn, it was beautiful to see an event which celebrates coffee in Perth without pretension but just as the bucket of fun it should be. Specialty coffee, or rather, great coffee, sometimes gets a bad rap. So it's wonderful to see it celebrated in such an inviting and exciting way.
Whilst I drank plenty of coffee, other sponsors kept us watered and fed, notably, Feral and Hippocampus sold cheap beer and gin, Marketplace doing the same for wine. Short Order burgers took up space out front, and Micrology kept coffee coming in the form of a delicious Rwandan Batch Brew. Raffle prizes were offered by Milife, Chicho Gelato, Kings of York, Nord coffee, Marketlane, Square One, Oli and Sons, and Clean Slate.
The whole event was hosted as the beautiful Someday Coffee, who not only held everyone but let the participants compete on their new coffee machine.