Korea's Cafe Art 🎨

By Serena Jackson

Have your art and eat it too! As aestheticism continues to dominate the social media scene, food art remains at the top for its beautiful edibility. From Michael Angelo to Instagram’s viral watermelon art, beauty can be found in the simplest of beings. Despite the medium used, art is still an undeniable silent spokesperson for the artist to engage with recipients.

Café art has gained mainstream attention since being popularized in US coffee shops in the late 1980s. The interest in cafe steadily brewed across the globe & reached Asian markets. Barista instructor Kolpaksti noted, “Asian baristas have a really strong work ethic, and they’re persistent and motivated to get to the top.” This determination, along with being crowned as an industry leader of the coffee market, has led to South Korea reigning as one of the best in the game of latte art. 

This art is based on a few key attributes of balance, beauty, and taste. With these qualities in mind, baristas make avid use of their culinary knowledge paired with scientific genius to curate beverages worthy of taking the consumer on an exciting journey through taste and time. 

As simple as latte art may seem, there are many variables that must be taken into consideration such as the temperature of the beverage and foam, the fat content of milk, airflow, and much more. Although cafe art is very extensive, many artists note an even more crucial factor is enjoying what they do as the passion they have for their art can be sensed in each cup.

A modern-day coffee-brewing Picasso taking the world by storm is the world-renowned Lee Kang Bin. The South Korea native is honored as being one of the biggest influences of latte art. 

After pictures of his coffee imitation of Van Gogh’s Starry Night were posted, social media sent droves of fans his way. Kang Bin is most notably recognized for his unique use of vibrant colors as opposed to the usual neutral tones utilized by other artists. 

His interest in cafe drinks brewed from an unexpected source. While serving his compulsory military service, he would often make coffee. When he returned home, he made up his mind to buy a coffee machine and open a cafe to serve soldiers. He did just so with the creation of  C. Through Cafe which has turned many of his over 200,000 followers on Instagram from across the globe into loyal customers.

The feeling of walking into a quaint cafe and breathing a deep sigh taking in the smooth aroma of freshly ground coffee beans is any coffee lover’s cloud nine. Add that to the excitement of when the waiter brings your favorite hot cafe drink topped with a cute smiley face, heart, or rosetta design and you can’t wait to take a picture then drink it.  Well, these delicately arranged designs by Lee Kang Bin will have you admiring the art and not even wanting to take a single sip out of fear of disturbing the beauty!

By utilizing milk as his canvas and food coloring, spoons, and small tools as his mediums, Kang Bin showcases a dynamic flip to the classic cafe art no one knew they needed, and now adore. He has introduced a higher level of satisfaction not merely based on visuals but also enjoyment gathered from an appreciation for the talented hands of others used to bring a hand made, personally tailored cup of coffee to each customer. 

During your next visit to Korea, fuel yourself after a long plane ride by stopping by one of these fan-favorite cafes exhibiting drinks too beautiful to drink and decorum out of this world.

  • Cafe Yeonnam-dong 239-20

This cafe is an attraction in itself. The black and white decorum blurs the lines between reality and walking through a 2D comic strip!  

  • Ban Bossy Boutique

“Pretty in pink” sums up the pastel-colored cafe perfect for coffee breaks with the girls. 

  • C. Through Cafe

Although customers can expect to wait around fifteen minutes for an artisan-crafted cup of cream art, the wait is totally worth it. 

  • Takeout Drawing

Owned by K-pop sensation PSY, this part time art exhibition and part time cafe, serves coffee mimicking art and is just as delicious as it is beautiful. 

Which one would you visit? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by Serena Jackson

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