March 20, 2012

Beauty, and Milk Foam

Latte art fascinates me. It speaks to the practical and the whimsical all at once, a fleeting affirmation of due diligence and the beautiful chemistry at work in the cup. Like bioluminescence, it is born of things invisible to us, combining to create something beautiful. It speaks to the dedication of the barista, to their experience and their investment.

It speaks to a number of things, different to each of us, which is why I find it so fascinating. To me, however many words I might devote to it, the pleasure derived is a primal one, not unique in human experience but as yet unmatched, like looking at the combusting sun spread across an otherwise barren horizon. It is a beauty that needs no explanation, inspiring a feeling best expressed by a blissful expulsion of air, lacking in voice or enunciation. Ah.

And it is unique as well, no one like the other, every barista's hand an induplicable variable. We have here testimony to this phenomenon, and tribute as well. Though there are the usual derisive comments about overpriced coffee and ego-inflated baristas, there is also this:
Sure, it's a minor and ephemeral art, and I can understand why it eludes a lot of people. But it brings a touch more beauty to the day. We need more such touches, whatever the motives.
Thus art, I think, is its own justification.

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