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Latte Art, also known as Barista Art or Coffee Art, refers to the practice of drawing a pattern or design on the surface of a latte using microfoam or steamed milk.
Though the exact origin of Latte Art remains hazy, the trend presumably began in Italy. In the United States, the practice of microfoam drawing was popularized by Seattle coffee shop Espresso Vivace owner David Schomer during the 1980s and 1990s. By 1992, Schomer had developed the popular rosette pattern (shown below) from a photograph he had seen at Cafe Mateki in Italy. On July 15th, 2002, LatteArt.org was launched as a barista’s resource website for latte art-related tutorials, images and video.
The most common technique for creating latte art is known as “free pouring,” which involves pouring milk directly on to the surface of the latte to produce the desired design (shown below, left). Etched latte art (shown below, right) uses a tool to make more intricate drawings on the foam, which typically dissolve faster than poured latte art designs.
On November 8th, 2003, the coffee enthusiast blog CoffeeGeek published a guide to making latte art. On December 14th, 2004, Flickr user tonx created a gallery of latte art photographs. On May 27th, 2005, an entry for latte art was submitted to the satirical wiki Uncyclopedia. On April 27th, 2006, YouTuber Vinko uploaded a video demonstrating how to create various types of latte art (shown below, left), which gained over 3.24 million views and 1,900 comments in the first eight years. On February 29th, 2008, YouTuber Steven Adams uploaded a video titled “World’s best latte art,” featuring footage of baristas making micro-foam designs using the pour method (shown below, right). Within six years, the video accumulated more than 2.48 million views and 1,300 comments.
On June 17th, 2009, the latte art-sharing site Barista Jam was launched. On July 24th, YouTuber bacco555888 posted a latte art video featuring several different designs, including a fern, peacock and dog (shown below, left). In the following five years, the video garnered upwards of 1.31 million views and 320 comments. On November 17th, 2010, YouTuber Khwanchai Matan uploaded a video showing how to create latte art, which gathered over 3.27 views and 1,700 comments in the next three years.
On Febraury 3rd, 2011, the website for the annual World Latte Art Championship was launched. On February 4th, 2012, the single topic blog Barista Art was created, which features photographs of notable latte art. On February 7th, 2013, the viral content site BuzzFeed published a compilation of 40 notable microfoam art examples. On May 21st, 2013, the video game news blog Kotaku published an article about Japanese 3D latte artist Kazuki Yamamoto (shown below).