Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Competition in a Cup: Little Amps to hold annual latte contest, fundraiser

Which is which? Coffee cuppers makes their selections during last year’s “throw-down” at Little Amps. Photos: Aimee Nguyen

Most days, Little Amps is pretty chill—a good place to hang out, enjoy a cup, chat and work. But, for one night each year, the competition really heats up.

Little Amps Coffee Roasters is holding its annual latte art competition at its State Street location on March 20. Contestants will put their pouring skills to the test as they go head-to-head to win judges over with their coffee masterpieces. [Please note: this event has been postponed.]

“Every year, we do a throw-down,” Rik Shellhamer, marketing director for Little Amps, said. “The latte art is like a celebration. People get really excited.”

This year’s contest is called the “Spring Break Oatdown” because it is sponsored by Oatly, an oat milk company. All the milk used in the lattes will be oat milk. To match the theme, Little Amps is encouraging attendees to wear spring break attire.

Each barista or self-taught coffee connoisseur will enter a bracket of around 26 to 32 participants. The top three will win Little Amps swag and coffee-related items.

“It’s a party that anyone’s welcome to come to,” Shellhamer said.

Little Amps Barista Kaiti Pates learned the art of a beautiful latte through YouTube and competed in the showdown a couple times over the years.

“I like when other coffee houses come through,” Pates said. “I like that sort of community, and I like a competition.”

In addition to the latte art, there will be a cupping triangulation contest with people tasting three cups of coffee to determine which is different.

The event is open to the public and is free to watch and $5 to participate, Shellhamer said.

Throughout the night, there will be music, catering by Korealicious and beer from Troegs. Money from the signups and additional donations will go to Brigada Solidaria del Oeste, an earthquake disaster relief team in Puerto Rico.

While the competition may be hot, Shellhamer explained the event is all about having fun.

“It’s just to have a good time with our community,” she said. “It’s just to get out of the winter funk and get everyone together.”

Please note that, due to the coronavirus crisis, the Spring Break Oatdown, which was supposed to take place next week at Little Amps, 133 State St., Harrisburg, as been postponed. For more information, visit

Continue Reading