Posted Fri Oct 19, 2012, 6:14am Subject: Re: Is Latte Art being overdone?
I have had several lattes of what I would call regional or national championship caliber at various small cafes in my time. My answer to your second question is another question haha would a regular customer care? Us coffee geeks would know the difference anyone who has made latte art at home is capable of telling the difference between good art and something stenciled or what ever. The point to make I suppose then is to say that art is a good thing but it should not come at a cost to the taste of the drink or as a cover up to a crappy drink. Latte art is part of what makes Baristaing fun and a passion rather than just a job if coupled with proper training.
NobbyR Senior Member Joined: 10 Jul 2011 Posts: 2,081 Location: Germany Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo Vac Pot: N/A Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe Roaster: N/A
Posted Fri Oct 19, 2012, 6:19am Subject: Re: Is Latte Art being overdone?
... The point to make I suppose then is to say that art is a good thing but it should not come at a cost to the taste of the drink or as a cover up to a crappy drink. Latte art is part of what makes Baristaing fun and a passion rather than just a job if coupled with proper training.
I agree. I just sometimes have the feeling that in some coffee shops latte art (no matter if it's poured or stenciled) is indeed used to pimp an otherwise mediocre drink, because the average costomer will think it's worth the overprice then.
*** "This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
StereoHeathen Senior Member Joined: 11 Sep 2011 Posts: 59 Location: New York City Expertise: Pro Barista
Grinder: Baratza Maestro Drip: Bee House, Clever Roaster: Hottop B
Posted Sun Oct 21, 2012, 10:37pm Subject: Re: Is Latte Art being overdone?
My question would be: why not pour latte art? Even presentation being the very least important aspect, I would rather get a drink with something attractive on top (gentle swirls from an attempt?) than lightened crema with a white spot where the milk was poured. That said, I don't think it deserves quite the attention it gets in the way of training at many cafes, versus producing quality coffee, but presentation is not an element that should be ignored. So much is often spent on decor, on the "right" cups both to stay and to go, that latte art seems a natural extension of the element. Personally, I place latte art at about 10/90 versus overall drink quality, but milk quality at about 40/60 versus coffee when in a latte or cappuccino.
Speaking as a coffee snob, I'd much rather have an excellent cup of coffee, than have fine latte art "covering up" a poorly made coffee. Based on your response, I'm sure you'd agree. The point of my original post was not to question the need for it or the presentation value, but to highlight that some supposedly high end cafes are allowing the art to act as a crutch for lesser quality coffee. I don't expect much from certain chains and super-auto push button drive-thrus, but the finer espresso bars that boast high quality beans and top notch equipment should put as much if not more time in learning how to make a great drink. The art is truly a gimmick. It's a good gimmick that requires skill and training. But you can make a fantastic latte without the art while still making excellent latte froth. Yes, most successful restaurants and bars will spend a lot of time developing the look and feel, the presentation, of their place, but the chef should still primarily be concerned with the taste and quality before the beauty.
kafegeek Senior Member Joined: 24 Sep 2012 Posts: 82 Location: Czech republic Expertise: Just starting
Posted Sun Oct 28, 2012, 2:43am Subject: Re: Is Latte Art being overdone?
As a Barista trainer at our cafe and a judge at the Canadian regional and national barista competition this year, I teach my "students" if you will the art of making good coffee first. Later when they have proved to make me a good cup will I teach them how to have fun with their drinks and make art. They will have already been making the nice foam, but latte art allows them to develop their own style and makes coffee more than just a job. Last year I stopped into a nice little cafe that someone had dumped tones of money into. Nice equipment, clean, nice atmosphere and friendly staff. I ordered a latte and was served a respectable looking drink with a nice balanced rosetta on top. I noticed however the shot put in my drink pulled in 10 seconds (I counted). I held my tongue and had a taste. It looked beautiful and the barista was quite proud of it but it was by far the most vial drink I have ever tasted. Being a nice guy I suggested to the barista that they fix their grind and slow down the pour. She looked at me as though I had two heads. Not sure why the training focus was on art and not taste is beyond me. So for me good drink first then fancy art I will take a good tasting latte over a pretty one any day lol
JohnLyn Senior Member Joined: 15 Aug 2011 Posts: 243 Location: Golden, BC, Canada Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: La Spaziale Mini Vivaldy Grinder: Vario Drip: Bonavita Roaster: Toastess popper
Posted Mon Nov 12, 2012, 11:07am Subject: Re: Is Latte Art being overdone?
I know this thread is focused on cafes.... But to bring it back home so to speak, here is something that I have observed.
I have stated before that when people come over, they are blown away by the art and impressed with the coffee. My observation is that the art is the "grab their attention moment", then they sit back and enjoy the coffee. I have some friends that come over specifically for a coffee. What they want is a good coffee, they do not come over for the art although they are still impressed by it.
When I show people how to use their machines, usually mediocre ones, they also get impressed that art is possible but really they are impressed with how good the milk tastes. Their coffee improves to more acceptable because they've gotten a cheap burr grinder and it will improves their pressurized basket shots. They go home afterwards and make coffee way more regularly and they never ask about art. They don't seek anything beyond that really, but they still come over for an even better coffee and when they travel they start noticing cafes and even ask for references for good ones.
So to bring it back to Cafes... I think that well textured milk can make most coffee drinks taste at least acceptable to the non-geek. Therefore, latte art quality milk will accomplish that. and let's face it, most cafes get away with mediocre coffee (as judged by the geek palate), and that's why the ones that will draw me in are the ones that make GREAT coffee, I learn from those ones, and they are all doing latte art of which I also enjoy seeing the differences in skill...
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