Hard-core coffee drinkers have said all along that making a good cup of coffee is an art, but some baristas at McPherson’s The Well are taking the art of coffee to a new level.
In the last few months, baristas at The Well have introduced latte art into their beverages. The images created in the lattes are free with the purchase of the beverages.
“Most of the best artisan coffees have latte art in every drink,” Nathan Holthus, Well barista, said. “It is kind of the stamp of a good drink. You have to make the drink taste good in order to make good latte art.”
Nick Unruh, Well barista, said creating the art helps bring awareness of the quality of coffee coming out of coffee shops.
Jenny Goering, Well manager, said latte art is just one component of a good cup of coffee.
You have to start with good coffee and quality water, have good milk and equipment, and a lot of skill to properly steam the milk and extract the shot, she said.around for awhile, becoming first popular in the U.S. in Seattle in the 1980s and 1990s.
However, the art has become popular in McPherson only lately.
A latte is created when you pour steamed milk into a shot of espresso. The Well baristas are creating pictures in the lattes by manipulating the way they pour the steamed milk into the espresso. This is known as free pouring in coffee circles.
So how is latte art possible?
This gets a little technical.
Latte art is a mixture of crema, which is an emulsion of coffee oil and brewed coffee; and the microfoam, which is a foam of air in milk.
Neither the crema or the microfoam is stable.
The latte art is fleeting not only because the beverage will be consumed but because the cream dissipates from expresso. Therefore the image will only last minutes.
The most common creations The Well baristas are making are the heart, the rosetta, which looks like a fern or flower, and the tulip.
However, the images the baristas can make are almost endless, Holthus said.
Caleb Porter, Well barista, said the latte art allows the baristas to create a different experience for each customer.
Although The Well sees the latte art as a value-added service for its customers, Unruh sees the art as a creative outlet.
“It is a part of loving your job,” he said.