I am probably alone in this wish but I would like to see less latte art. I feel that the perceived need for latte art is driving baristas to steam and texture all milk in one fairly wet style, regardless of the drink type.
Latte art on a caffè latte makes sense. The ratio of steamed milk to silky microfoam works perfectly for pouring highly detailed rosettas. Art on a cappuccino, or a caffè macchiato makes less sense to me. Without going into the traditional vs modern interpretation debate, I like to see a cappuccino with a healthy head of slightly stiff microfoam. I want a caffè machiato to be espresso combined with a tiny bit of steamed milk and topped with a dollop of foam.
My problem with free poured art is that all espresso based drinks are turning into lattes of varying strength. In other words the cappuccino at many bars is just a mini-latte, and the caffè macchiato is a really mini latte. The textures that should differentiate the drinks are absent.
I appreciate the gesture on the part of the barista. The job is repetitive and pouring latte art can spice up the workday as well as improve a drink's presentation, which can in turn increase tips.
Why don't I ask for my drink to be made how I want it?
1. Because in a slightly ironic twist, the shops that are commonly guilty of this tend to be third wave coffee shops. If the owner/barista feels that all drinks should be served with art then I feel that it is innapropriate to ask him/her to abandon that vision.
2. If I ask for a dry cappuccino I am likely to receive something covered in dish soap-like foam.
As a result, I find myself avoiding the cappuccino more and more. If I want a cappa the way that I like it, I'll make it at home and stick to espresso or drip when going out.