Visually Oriented: The Aesthetics and Aroma of Latte Design

-Emily Fraysse

Driving toward the blur of the city lights on the Bay Bridge, I looked in my rear-view mirror to a sunrise that made Oakland and the Berkeley hills look like they were on fire. I never usually drive into San Francisco at this ungodly hour of the morning, but my mother, father, two sisters, and I all signed up to work the morning shift at Glide Memorial in the Mission District. After countless plates served of watered-down eggs and two-day-old bread, we were finally finished and exhausted. We began to wander about the Mission district, ravenous with a major lack of caffeine in my system. Bringing up the Yelp app on my iPhone, I found a good rating for a restaurant called “The Blue Fig,” so we went forth.

It was a bit of a hole-in-the wall restaurant despite the high rating on Yelp. I snatched up an order of mocha and eggs Benedict and when the food came, I was astonished. My mocha had been transformed from a typical latte to an elaborate form of art with the name of the restaurant carefully and eloquently poured in by steamed milk.

While this form of art is purely temporary, it is a worldly recognized and appreciated type of edible design. Since the early ‘80s, the action of pouring steamed milk into a shot of espresso, or latte, while creating beautiful sketches and patterns is seen as a legitimate talent. Baristas, or coffeehouse bartenders, seek creativity and elegance when creating. Their goal is not only about flaunting their talents, however. It is also about making that single cup of coffee more special, sexy, and, consequently, more delicious  The artwork ranges from floral prints, to symbols, to portraits. For more design inspiration check out this gallery.

WikiHow provides a quick guide to creating a latte floral pattern.

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