Jack Hanna of Canberra, Australia is the reigning world champion of latte art — at least according to the recent World Latte Art Championships held in Belgium this past May: Aussie cappuccino king says coffee art not all froth | Lifestyle | Living | Reuters.
Australia has won the title two years running. (No surprise, given how much Australian tourists seem to obsess over latte art when visiting America.) And although Mr. Hanna received some stiff competition from the usual assortment of European representatives this year (from Denmark, Russia, and Iceland), it may come as a surprise to some that the Italians came in last. In fact, the Italians always seem to fare poorly at this competition.
Given how seriously Italians take their coffee and design, it might make you question where latte art sits in the hierarchy of Italian art appreciation — relative to the likes of Giotto, Caravaggio, and Titian. It ranks somewhere alongside the works of Delpino — as in Vinnie Delpino, of Doogie Howser, M.D. fame.
Not that the Italians are always right when it comes to espresso; they certainly have a sameness problem, and they clearly lack examples at the top-most quality end. But while latte art is aesthetically pleasing and is a nice indicator of a café that cares, it is more about milk than it is about coffee. All things considered, I’d take great microfoam over latte art any day. Which makes latte art nice, but but about as relevant to quality espresso as birth control is to Neil Patrick Harris.
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