I’ve written briefly briefly before about latte art, the designs a barista can place into the steamed milk foam of a latte. While not strictly essential, these designs show that the barista cares about detail and give the job an added challenge. Too little foam and you have nothing to work with; too much foam and you can’t get enough flow to make a design. Of course, the goal of making perfect milk for latte art is complimentary to the goal of making a drink that tastes good or else we wouldn’t do it. Aiming for the former helps ensure the latter. Besides, it’s nice to give the drink an alluring visual presentation to match its wonderful taste and aroma.
The most well known form of latte art is the rosetta. Some excellent examples of this floral design can be seen here. After several months on the job I’m finally starting to get the hang of it, though I’m inconsistent and mine are often narrower than I would like. In time I’ll have it down. What then? Browsing the Internet today, I found a couple of sites showing that there’s plenty more to aspire to.
The first is Beige, a site promoting excellence in Sweden’s cafe culture (I’m told that Scandinavia is becoming quite the place for espresso drinks). The site is in Swedish, unfortunately, but the pictures speak for themselves. These amazing abstract designs aren’t poured directly into the cup. Instead, they’re etched into the surface of the latte with some sort of stylus or straw. The dark bands are where chocolate syrup has been added. If these lattes are as delicious as they look, I might have to take a trip to Sweden.
The second site is the photo gallery of a Japanese barista. Whereas most latte art is abstract, this guy pushes the limits of realism. (Is it any coincidence he’s from the same country that gave us hot dog sharks and other sausage sculpture?) He appears to be using almost entirely pours with just a little bit of etching on the facial features. My favorites are “Qoo,” the bunny, and the fish in the sea. The Rawlings football in the background is a nice touch, too. Link via Screenhead.