Just as roasteries and cafes operate quality-control (QC) programs to establish serving standards for taste and flavour, they can establish QC protocols for visual presentation. This need not involve discarding less-successful pours, a practice which can lead to loss of income for businesses. Instead, it’s useful to create minimum visual standards that are expected of staff at various levels of experience and responsibility. The scoring scale used in the World Latte Art Championships (WLAC) can provide inspiration for developing an in-house protocol.
The WLAC uses a sliding scale from 0 through 6, and each numerical grade equates with a qualifying word. Judges choose from a selection of words that match their verbal response to a point score: For example, 2 is ‘average’ and 3 is ‘good’. The following is excerpted from the 2017 WLAC Rules and Regulations:
“13.1 EVALUATION SCALE There are two types of scores: the Yes/No Score, and numeric scores (0-6). The evaluation scales are the same for both technical and visual judges. Yes = 1 No = 0 Unacceptable = 0 Acceptable = 1 Average = 2 Good = 3 Very Good = 4 Excellent = 5 Extraordinary = 6 A. Yes/No Score The competitor receives one (1) point for a score of Yes on this item, and zero (0) points for a score of No. B. Numeric Score Available scores range from 0 to 6. Half points are permissible from 1 to 6. Judges are encouraged to use the full range of scores (e.g. if no visible pattern is seen a zero may be appropriate). Low numbers indicate a poorer presentation and vice versa. Certain scoring criteria may be weighted by being multiplied by x 2, or x 4.”
Getting Over the Bar
You have less to gain by occasionally reaching incredible peaks in performance than by consistently maintaining a good minimum standard. A metaphor for this might be the hurdles compared with the high jump at the Olympics;