Since 1990, South Korea has almost doubled the consumption of coffee per capita. Hence, cafe owners ventured into coffee and latte art. Although latte art is nothing new, one Korean barista’s latte art will totally blow your mind.
Lee Kang-bin, the owner of Cafe C. Through in South Korea, has been a barista for ten years. According to him, he has been making coffee since he was 17 years old. Luckily, his parents have always been supportive of his passion.
Upon completing his military service, he decided to buy his own machine and open the coffee shop for other soldiers in his field. Seven years ago, he branched into latte art.
Although he’s never had any formal training in drawing, Kang-bin can create stunning latte art which he calls “creamart.” As many would say, it’s almost too beautiful to drink. As a matter of fact, his projects earned him a seat as judge in Art Latte competitions around the world.
Kang-bin has already recreated world-renowned paintings, including Vincent van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night,’ Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’, and Leonardo DiVinci’s ‘Mona Lisa,’ using espresso, chocolate sauce, and food coloring making them entirely edible.
He paints the colors on with a small spoon, using the foam as a backdrop and a color in many pieces. A metal stir stick allows him to add smaller details or blend colors. My Modern Met noted the process is remarkably similar to conventional painting.
In another method of his latte art, Kang-bin adds the pigments to the foam first before pouring it out over a cup of coffee to create colorful swirling shapes. The cost of each cream art coffee is 7,500 won ($6.63).
Kang-bin also accepts custom work. Requests include everything from storybook characters, such as the Little Prince, to a Vogue Korea magazine cover. The most sold designs are those of Disney, Bambi, Winnie the Pooh, since children love those creations. Each cup takes about 15 minutes to as long as an hour to whip up, so Kang-bin only makes three a day and strictly by reservation.
Regardless of the design, Kang-bin says it’s crucial that his works of art can be consumed. Even though creamart is cold coffee, the taste doesn’t change as time passes.
Kang-bin said that he’s as serious about coffee as he is about art and said the taste is important to him. Their menu also has more traditional items for walk-in customers.
The cafe owner is working to share his art with the world and has also started giving classes. Moreover, his creativity and color stroke mastery has been deemed a hit on social media, earning him nearly 200,000 Instagram followers.
He regularly updates his account with his latest creation. He also has a YouTube channel where he shares some of his step-by-step creations. That one goes for those who are skeptical that there’s no Photoshop involved.
Today, his cafe is so preoccupied that Kang-bin only sleeps a couple of hours a night. With the success of the cafe, he says they’re able to export a new side of South Korean culture to the world. According to him, the key to his success is passion and perseverance.