Barista jams were being held in a few areas of the country toward the end of the last decade. The Metro Detroit area, although having a rich and long history of vibrant coffee houses, seemed to be lacking a similar throwdown.

I contacted the Barista Guild of America in November 2009, to talk up a regional event. The SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association) was putting together plans to hold Skill Building Workshops, instead of independent BGA jams, and they came on board.

So, in May 2010, the University of Michigan and various local companies, hosted the SCAA Skill Building Workshop, along with a Motown Throwdown, held at the Plymouth Coffee Bean, on a Thursday evening, with their full crowd of customers. We crowned three latte art champions.

In May 2011, Motown Throwdown II was at AJ’s Café, Ferndale. There were two “competitions”: a signature drink and a Best Colombian. Lani Peterson, a renowned BGA judge came in, as did two professional cuppers to determine the best Colombian.

The plan is to have the large Conference & Workshops every other May, and a throwdown of some sort every year.

Please throw your support behind these collective efforts to increase the quality of the beverages coffee houses offer, along with professional skill levels. That our LOCAL industry, and customer base, is better for it goes without saying.

-Tom Isaia
Coffee Express Co.

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