I was at the Café Coffee Day the other day. And like all coffee shop regulars, I was there for a reason: my love-hate relationship with coffee notwithstanding. There was a proposal presentation that had to be completed before the end of the day. And with the team , we were brainstorming the last minute as always, and making the final touches and changes.
There’s something about cafes that are such amazing stress busters. I for one, have always enjoyed working from my favourite coffee hangouts, than from the office, especially in circumstances of extreme stress and race for the deadline. Just a whiff of caffeine induced dopamine and adrenaline release can infuse that wonder energy and grey cells to go on overdrive. It’s the whole caffeinated ambience I guess. My favourite Nickelback Latte song only added to the aura. But what really caught my eye that day were the beautiful designs that the Barista had done on our lattes.
Intricate patterns on our espressos with milk foam intrigued and bowled me over with their exemplary perfection. I couldn’t stop admiring my cup of coffee. I was familiar with the more simpler leaf and Rossetta designs on the espresso, but the perfect symmetrical pattern, almost in the golden ratio this time was something that was borne out of absolute passion. We forgot all about the presentation, and were deeply engrossed with the Barista about the spectacular latte art.
Latte Art involves both chemistry and artistry. It involves preparing coffee by pouring steamed milk into a shot of espresso which can be made into a pattern or design on the surface of the resulting latte. The technique of course takes years of practice and the skilled Barista can charm his customers by innovation and skill. It is however very difficult to master latte art, as it requires demanding conditions of both espresso and milk.
The Coffee Art was popularised by David Schomer of Espresso Vivace in the 1980s with the development of microfoam. Not all Baristas (coffee bartenders) are skilled to make every cup of latte a masterpiece. But some designs do evoke powerful emotions with their subtle visual idea, making the process of drinking coffee a kind of artistic experience. Latte Art has come a long way since then, and is now a specialised branch in the coffee industry, enthralling coffee lovers worldwide and making the cafe experience more than just about the brew. Art and coffee, it seems, have found the perfect soul-mates in each other!