Jack Hanna, World Latte Art Champion 2007

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World Latte Art Champion, Jack Hanna, speaks to us and shows off his talent as well as sharing a few tips for creating latte art.

Young, focussed and confident; these are all words that could be used to describe Sydney’s Jack Hanna, World Latte Art Champion 2007. But there are two words that best sum him up – driven and talented. At only 21 years of age, Jack’s journey to World Champion has been swift and decisive. “When I really get into something, I want to be the best that I can be, otherwise I feel I am wasting my time”, explains Jack.Jack started out behind a machine at the beginning of 2004, for some holiday money after finishing high school. A friend was working for a Gloria Jean’s café and they needed a helping hand, so Jack agreed to pitch in. Within a few weeks he was producing perfectly textured milk and experimenting with latte art. Showing natural talent, he wanted to learn more about coffee. Jack soon moved across the road to work at another café where he met Aldo of Di Lorenzo Coffee. Aldo was just starting out at that time and was able to spend a bit of time giving Jack a few pointers when he delivered coffee to the café. Jack credits this time as the true beginning of his “pursuit for coffee perfection”, as he describes it. “I really got into trying to replicate the perfect espresso every time. There are so many variables and changes that you have to manage and that is always challenging and, the more I learnt, the more I realised I didn’t know”. He recalls saying to Aldo at the time, “Aldo, you just watch, by next year I am going to be top 10 in Australia”.jackhannah_pic4-282x300

By 18, Jack had already set up his own graphic design company and was completing a marketing course and attending design school but his passion for coffee was really beginning to take hold. Jack was spending a lot of time researching, experimenting and making contact with people in the coffee industry, both in Australia and overseas. Interestingly, after reading an issue of Crema Magazine, Jack was inspired to contact  Campos Coffee, well-known for it’s quality coffee and top baristas, and did some work with them before closing up the design company and heading for Canada.
Jack had heard of a café in Vancouver, called ‘Caffe Artigiano’, which specialised in latte art, and decided to make contact. Owned by brothers Sammy and Vince Piccolo,  Sammy has been the Canadian Barista Champion from 2003-2006 and silver and bronze medallist at the 2004 & 2005 World Barista Champs respectively; Jack packed his bags when Sammy invited him to come to Vancouver to train. This experience was a fantastic environment for creativity, experimentation and the pursuit of perfection and Jack was to stay for a year before heading home to Sydney to focus on the Australian Barista Champs in 2005. Going it alone, armed only with a Robur grinder and a drive to succeed, Jack would even often pay cafes to use their machines in order to train out of hours. Remembering his words to Aldo, Jack did indeed achieve his goal as he came 5th in the NSW heats behind the 4 barista’s who went on to take out 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place at the Australian Barista Championships that year.

jackhannah_signatureJack was confident in his natural talent for latte art and decided to focus on winning the Australian Championships in 2006. As Jack explains, “with ego put aside, I was sure that I was one of the better latte artists in the world and I wanted to prove that to myself”. He did, of course, go on to win and headed off to Belgium in May of this year to compete on the world stage. In competition, baristas have to make 6 coffees in 8 minutes – free-pouring 2 identical latte or cappuccino designs, 2 identical macchiato designs and the final 2 with a ‘signature design’. Jack not only won with his signature design but, in a very impressive display of talent, Jack poured identical rosettas behind his back. Jack perfected this skill in Canada and, to Jack’s knowledge, no one else can do this in Australia.

So, what lies ahead for Jack Hanna? Essentially he sees himself as a business person rather than a barista and has started his own coffee consultancy, providing training for franchises and big business. Jack is also working on releasing a new line of products and is looking to develop a range of coffee blends further into the future. “This has opened a door for me and has been a great opportunity to set goals for the future” – challenging himself to improve the coffee experience in Australia. “In particular I want to educate people who haven’t experienced the specialty side of coffee”.

Born in the Province of Yunnan in China, famous for it’s tea, Jack laughs as he tells of the irony that his mother worked as an international exporter for the Yunnan Tea Company. “I have certainly had to battle with the misconception – what does an Asian kid know about coffee? – but that is changing now”. As Jack continues to achieve his goals with definite determination, passion and a focus on the future there is no doubt that he will make his mark as one of the leading figures in the coffee industry, in Australia and overseas.

Jack’s tips for creating latte art

  • Start with a good shot of espresso with a rich crema.
  • Work hard to master the art of texturing the milk – You should maintain a soft hissing sound as the steam creates the silky micro-foam by introducing air into the milk in small micro quantities, not in big cavitations of bubbles.
  • Full cream milk is easiest to work with.
  • A bell-shaped jug is best for a beginner as it helps to promote the whirlpool effect which is an essential part of texturing the milk (but as you gain experience, any shaped jug should be fine).
  • The ideal milk temperature, purely for pouring latte art, is at about 50-55 degrees (but the final coffee might not be warm enough as a drink) – good for practicing but not for serving.
  • A bowl-like cup with a round bottom is best. A flat bottom cup doesn’t allow the milk to float as well.
  • Pour the milk into the cup, rolling the milk through the espresso in smooth circular motions to soften the surface of the crema. This way it becomes more combined with the milk – one creamy body rather than 2 separate entities – and the milk can cut up through the crema once it is time to focus on pouring the design.
  • When pouring a rosetta, use a smooth side-to-side wiggling motion to bring a  wave of milk to the top, then draw the milk back through the centre to create the leaves.
  • When pouring a heart, slowly pour the milk onto the crema with a small forward pushing motion so that it forms a blob on the surface, then draw back through the centre, ending with a slender tail.

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