Throwing Down at Blue State Coffee

20 Sep


The Final 3: Glad I’m Not Judging

It’s the third Thursday of the month, which can only mean one thing: time to THROWDOWN! If you’ve never been to a coffee throwdown, it’s pretty simple: baristas from around the city compete in a latte art competition for some cash and bragging rights. While baristas compete in head-to-head matches until the final round, the rest of us drink beer and munch on party food like pizza and pastries.

Ryan in the Championship Round

Pressure’s On: Ryan Soeder (Counter Culture) during the Final Round

Anticipation: Who will win?

Can Cut the Anticipation With a Knife: Who Will Be Crowned this Month’s Champion?

This month’s throwdown will be held at Thinking Cup Coffee Shop. Who will be deciding which barista deserves the glory and kitty of cash? The judge will be last month’s champ, Ryan Soeder of Counter Culture.

The Finals

The Finals: Another Look

On my very first day in Cambridge, I wandered into Barismo’s flagship coffee shop Dwelltime. Six hours later, I found myself at a latte art throwdown at Blue State coffee in Allston.

Ryan's Prize

Ryan Soeder’s Prize: Two Kinds of Paper

The competition was fierce, resulting in three competitors making it to the final round. After much anticipation, Soeder took home not only the cash, but also some coffee filters.

Jake's Runner-up Prize

Jake Robinson Enjoys His Runner-Up Prize

Taking the consolation prize was his Counter Culture coworker Jake Robinson.


Excellent Macchiato at Blue State Coffee

I had such a great experience at Blue State for the throwdown, I recently came by to see how it was on a more typical day.  The first thing you’ll notice is that it is a BU hangout and study spot. You’ll mostly see people slowly drinking giant lattes and iced teas in between furious highlighting.


8 oz Cortado at Blue State Coffee

If you are dense like me, it will take you awhile to realize that the store’s called “Blue State” because it has a liberal social justice bent. Political quotes are scrawled on blackboards around the shop, and every customer gets to vote for which local charity should receive a donation by the shop. Perfect for a college town.

Thomas Jefferson

It’s Not Called Blue State for Nothing

I found the young and casual energy of the place perfect for my morning reading. There was something fitting about reading gender bias theory while listening to full albums by Lauryn Hill and Fiona Apple while sipping on espresso by three female baristas and deciding if I should cast my charity vote for gender reproductive rights or science clubs for girls. Fortunately, the money is distributed to all four charities proportional to the number of votes they receive, so every vote counts and every charity wins.

Charity Votes

Dont’ Forget to Cast Your Votes for Charity

In addition to enjoying the atmosphere, I was impressed by my beverages. I found the cortado just average, and a bit unexpected at a hulking 8 oz instead of the typical 4. What won me over was a truly excellent macchiato – same house espresso blend in both drinks, but this barista just nailed it. Between manager Ryan Ludwig’s leadership and the inviting atmosphere of the staff, I’m looking forward to making Blue State a regular stop on my “studying at coffee shop” rotation.

Tonight’s Throwdown:
Thinking Cup
165 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 482-5555

Last Month’s Throwdown:
Blue State Coffee
957 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 254-0929

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