Every February, the university I go to requires us to step out of our mini kingdoms and explore the vast yonder that lay beyond our walls. Alternative class day, also called LEAP day is a day in the middle of university week when the student government (or student organizations) offers interesting classes as a break from the routine of school.
This year, my older brother and I decided to try our hand at Latte Art–partly because the venue was near our front doorstep, but also because the experience sounded chic and artsy.
I myself enjoy tea more than coffee. In fact, I rarely drink the stuff! New experiences, however, are more often than not about stepping out of your comfort zone, so step out I did!
The class began at nine in the morning, and we left the house ten minutes before nine.
Fortunately, we arrived on time.
The Commune cafe was situated at a busy corner street near our place, and I wondered how we could have been so unaware of the shop. After inquiring after our host Miss Ros, I found out that the coffee shop opened around April of last year, which just shows how often I go out (aka sparingly...almost never).
After a brief background lesson on the origin of coffee and the different sorts of coffee, our class of twenty-six was ready to get on with the latte art.
Telly makes the entire process look so easy, but between the grinding of the beans, the pressing of the grind, the making of the espresso, the steaming of the milk, and the pouring of the cup, latte art required more skill than it let on.
There are three methods to making latte art (at least, two of which we've been taught). The first is called free pouring, the second etching and the third 3D madness.
Free pouring, Mr Barista (I am so poor with names, I am so sorry!) tells us, is the more skillful of the three. Those white hearts that take shape amidst the brown of the coffee? That's what this is. There are other designs, of course–ferns, leaves, butterflies–all driven by the imagination.
Etching uses this metal screwdriver like instrument that is used like a pen to put in the more detailed portions of the design (for example, the eyes of a cat, or the swivels of a swirl).
3D art is, as the name implies, 3D. It pops out of the coffee surface, like a rubber duck on the water (which I bet they can do for you). The milk foam used for this method is much less airy, and does not sink as fast as the foam used in the other two methods, from what we were taught.
Given our numbers, not every person was able to give latte art a go, but after Mr Barista gave us an amazing demo, my brother (among a few other fine people we met) were able to give it a go.
He eagerly steamed the whole milk, and poured it into the freshly brewed espresso. His resulting latte art was a big brown blotch on the cup, and to be honest, it didn't look like anything artsy. Mr Barista, fortunately, had a few tricks up his sleeve. With the foam, he drew a cross and four dots atop the brown blotch, and used a metal sort of pen to etch at the foam, leaving an elegant swirling pattern across the coffee's foamy surface.
Overall, this is arguably the most fun I've had in an alternative class. I got to experience a very different sort of class, meet new people (special shout-out to Cherry and Max with whom my brother and I had a lovely conversation) and got to drink great looking lattes!
Here are some photos I took of the experience.