Completing the Coffee Experience: COCC students bring latte art to life

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The next time you’re about to chug down your lavender latte from Bom Dia Coffee, you might want to take a look down into your coffee cup first. Chances are you have a miniature masterpiece staring up at you that will only last a few moments.

Photo by Vera Holiday | The Broadside.
Photo by Vera Holiday | The Broadside.

 

“I’ve worked at four coffee shops before I made it to Bom Dia and I have never had to learn how to do latte art until now,” said Derrick Strange, a Central Oregon Community College student and barista at Bom Dia Coffee.

“In the utmost quality of coffee comes latte art,” Strange explained. ”Because if you’re making the milk correctly, you will be able to make latte art. It is all about the milk.”

Latte art is achieved through pouring steamed milk into a coffee drink with an artistic finesse. It is crucial for the milk to be at a correct consistency in order to generate the creative effect, according to Strange. Too much steam leads to foam, while too little steam leads to a runny consistency. Baristas must learn to determine how long they need to steam the milk in order to generate their ideal consistency.

“It is part of the package [of enjoying fine coffee],” Strange explained. “It is the first thing you see, and you can see visible differences when you steam the milk differently … just like you can taste the differences when you roast the coffee beans differently.”

Latte art has become “a signature” for Bom Dia, according to Beau Beach, who is the owner at Bom Dia Coffee.

“We are able to do latte art because we are providing a quality milk to our coffee,” Beach said. “Latte art is almost like a signature for us. Yes, it looks pretty, but it shows that customers are getting a quality product.”

Although being a latte artist is not required to work at Bom Dia Coffee, employees are highly encouraged to learn the skill. Becoming However, fellow latte artists know that becoming familiar with producing an edible, caffeinated art piece takes time.

Derrick Strange, a student at COCC pouring a latte for a customer.  Photo by Vera Holiday | The Broadside.
Derrick Strange, a student at COCC pouring a latte for a customer. Photo by Vera Holiday | The Broadside.

“At Bom Dia, we can make a latte in a minute-thirty,” Derek said. “I started working coffee when I was 23… I am 33 now, so about a decade now.”

Ten years may seem like a long time to dedicate oneself to learning about coffee, but Derek does not mind.

“I could have skipped a lot of those years and gone to the quality [of coffee] and pouring [latte art],” Strange said. “But then I wouldn’t appreciate the quality I am experiencing now.”

Designs range from simple as hearts to elaborate as pirate ships. Each cup of coffee poured at Bom Dia is a work of art, according to Strange. Although it may only exist for a few moments, Strange enjoys seeing the reactions on customer’s faces when they see what’s waiting for them in their cup.

“The cool thing about latte art is that I get to do ten or twenty designs a day. Even the regulars still enjoy seeing [the latte designs],” Strange said.

To Strange, creating latte art is more than pouring steamed milk into a person’s morning latte: It is about completing the coffee experience for people.
“Latte art goes a long way to show a barista’s true love for coffee. I feel like if you are not getting art in your latte, I don’t feel you’re actually getting the best coffee you could be getting,” Strange explained. “It really ties in the total coffee experience.”

 

Emily Kalei
The Broadside

efgarica@cocc.edu

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