Circa 2008, long before being crowned the 2015 World Latte Art Champion, Caleb Cha was an inexperienced waiter with a heavy language barrier living in Melbourne. After struggling to get by in his waiting job, he decided it was time to challenge himself to work in a new area.
Q: Can you tell me about how you got into the coffee industry in the first place?
A: After seeing an advertisement for work in the coffee industry, I immediately enrolled in a coffee course at the William Angliss institute, and my very first teacher was Melissa Caia. I never expected to see her again after finishing there but we ended up meeting again a few years later once I had entered the competition scene. I immediately recognized her as my old teacher, and I was really proud that I had learned from the best.
Q: What’s your ASCA Judging experience? Have you been a judge in any World Championships?
A: I’ve been judging the ASCA Latte Art, Barista, and Coffee in Good Spirit Competitions since 2016. Unfortunately I haven’t judged Brewers yet but I’m very keen to do so. I am a WCE Certified Latte Art Judge and went to Budapest to judge the World Latte Art Championship (WLAC) in 2017. My background as a competitor helped me to empathize with how the competitors struggle to create and perform their patterns on the stage. It might be the one and only chance for them to represent their country so the pressure is out of control. I tried my very best to be fair and learned so much from many other judges around the world. I really appreciate having the opportunity to judge worlds and I’m already really excited to head to Berlin for the 2019 WLAC in June.
Q: Can you explain how the Latte Art competition works for those who might be watching for the first time?
A: Competitors create two free-pour designs which they can only use a milk jug for, and one designer latte which they are allowed to use etching tools for. Competitors provide photos of the three designs they will create on the judge’s table and competitors must replicate two cups of each of the three designs on-stage, which means pouring 6 cups in 10 minutes. It actually is pretty intense! Judges will evaluate each pair of poured cups to assess how identical they are, the milk foam quality, harmony, difficulty, overall impression; barista technique and professionalism.
Caleb will be the head judge of the Australian Pauls Professional Latte Art Championship at MICE2019 in a few weeks time, make sure to get your tickets so you don’t miss out!