Latte Art with a bit ‘o’ Hop and a Lotta Heart

Posted by on August 17, 2010 at 3:22 pm.

Matthew Johnson & Julia Kuo, Blenz Yaletown

When we first set out to find our home base for the 12×12 last winter, we knew it had to be a central coffee shop that not only offered the refreshments necessary for a day-long event, but also had comfortable surroundings for our photographers to kick back and relax.

During one of the early committee meetings, we were down in Yaletown and decided to take a walk around the neighbourhood to see if there were any locations that would be up to the challenge of hosting our large group of artists. There were a couple that shook their heads at the prospect and we started to get a little worried when Blenz suddenly came into view. They had a spacious outdoor heated patio with lots of seating, and the interior was warm and cozy with wonderful ambiance. With fingers crossed, we approached and asked to speak to its manager who turned out to be Matthew Johnson, just about the nicest fella, as was Blenz President George Moen, who phoned Morten personally to offer his support. They not only welcomed us into their space, but did so without batting an eyelash and for that we are so very thankful.

And we couldn’t have picked a more ideal coffee chain. With a mutual love for the arts, they were the perfect venue to collaborate with. Not only did we hold our inaugural marathon at Blenz Yaletown but our winners were also featured in the franchise-wide Blenz Digital Media Network for all its customers to enjoy. As a tribute to their generosity and for welcoming us back this year, here’s a bit of coffee art by Master Barista and Trainer Julia Kuo with shots of pouring and stencil latte art.

Thanks to George, all of our marathoners will receive a gift certificate on the day of the event so they can all enjoy a cuppa joe on him. Julia, you’re going to be one busy barista on September 12th!

Don’t forget to view the gallery at the bottom of this post for some of Julia’s fun works of coffee art.

Gear: Canon EOS 5D Mark-II, KinoFlo Kamio ring light, EF 24-105 F/4L IS USM, Sennheiser 112/G2 wireless kit + Audio-Technica shotgun.

Some helpful tips from Julia if you’re making your own cup of latte art:

  • It’s not necessary to press the espresso super tight, but you do need a certain amount of pressure to eliminate any voids in the coffee bed. Press too loosely and the water will go through the espresso cake really fast, leaving you with a very watery crema that lacks the rich caramel colour that is needed to reveal the latte art. On the other hand, pressing too tightly will impede the water from going through and you’ll end up with a bitter and burnt shot
  • When preparing the milk, gently let the steam wand touch the surface of the milk (called “kissing the milk”) and turn on the pressure to blow air into the milk. By this time you should hear the familiar “hisssssssss.” Since these are lattes and not cappuccinos, don’t steam that much foam; 2-4 secs will do. Foam can only be created before 100°F. Higher than 100°F and you’d basically just be heating up milk
  • After the foam is created, lower the steam wand further into milk and make the milk spin in a circle. This not only mixes the foam with the milk but also makes the bubbles smaller (called “micro-foam”)
  • When pouring the latte, try to grab the jug tightly but loosen your wrist. Without rushing it, gently wiggle in the milk. Remember that by the time you reveal your foam on the espresso crema, your jug mouth should be really close to the surface of coffee

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