Item by Chris Graham
Ever heard of latte art?
Yes, I’m talking about doing something artistic with an espresso.
They have contests for this sort of thing, you know …
“Latte art refers to the designs created when the barista pours the foamed milk into an espresso drink,” said Kathleen Stinehart, owner of Cranberry’s Grocery and Eatery in Downtown Staunton.
“It’s a sign the milk has acquired the right texture to be tasty and makes a big difference in the presentation,” Stewart said.
One of Stewart’s baristas, Jason Welch, will show off his latte-art skills at a contest in Washington, D.C., next month.
Welch’s style is “free-pour latte art,” “which is more difficult than etching a design on top by swirling caramel or some other addition into the drink,” Welch said.
“A couple of years ago, I decided I couldn’t afford the books or videos that teach this, so I went to the Staunton Public Library and searched until I found a two-second video clip on line showing someone making a leaf,” Welch said.
“I watched that clip over and over again, and then came in to work and started experimenting. My signature design became a rosetta leaf, and pretty soon I saw customers whipping out their cameras and cell phones and photographing what I had just handed them,” Welch said.
Welch is competing in the CoffeeFest latte-art championships that are set for Feb. 15-17.
“My designs appear to be as good as any I’ve seen online,” Welch said, “and I kind of want to see how I stack up against other professional baristas. Not to mention the fact that the first place winner walks away with $5,000.”
Welch will get three shots at creating his art in the contest in what is basically a mano-a-mano tournament-bracket competition.
“Whether or not I win, I’ll still keep doing my own designs on Lester’s Best coffee here in Staunton,” Welch said, “a winning combination in itself.”
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The Augusta Free Press.