Oooo, Latte Art.

September 16, 2011


As a utilitarian, I'm very infrequently moved by art. It seems so... useless? I realize that most art is supposed to make you feel something. For me, that feeling is usually apathy. Is apathy a feeling or rather its absence? If it's the former, then most artists are accomplishing what they set out to do; at least with regards to me. Anyway, I've seen a ton of pictures of fancy-pants hearts in lattes. They've always seemed like pure, pointless indulgence. Latte art? Really? It's friggin' milk and coffee.



This was my long-held belief until I'd come across a rosetta in real life. It didn't evoke any particular emotions for me, but, man, it was delicious. In Starbucks-land, there are no rosettas, and the lattes are not nearly as delicious. So, my thinking was that this latte art thing maybe isn't a pure indulgence after all (only partly). After imbibing my rosetta-etched latte, I took a bit of time on google and found out that there are two things necessary to latte art: finely foamed milk and a well-extracted shot of espresso.



Oh, there's also a third factor to consider- the barista. After getting the gist of things on google and youtube, I set out to recreate the rosetta. Clearly, I'd gotten it down to a science. I'd spent enough time staring at pictures of milk-foaming guru David Schomer smiling over a little latte heart. My trusty Delonghi Bar32 could surely recreate anything Mr. Schomer was doing on his La Marzocco. Sure enough, my first time out was a pseudo-success.



I had extracted a perfect shot of espresso and my milk was foamed so perfectly, it could have doubled for wet paint. The only thing that didn't happen was latte art, but that was only a matter of time. Eventually, I had it. It had only taken six months, a new espresso machine, a new grinder, overhauled technique, and a thoroughly retooled idea of proper espresso and foamed milk. These days, I can honestly say that rosettas evoke a number of emotions in me, frustration in particular. Latte art, it's kind of a big deal.



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