MAR 15, 2018 3:34 PM PDT

Hi-Tech Coffee Trend: Latte Selfies

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

Highly-detailed latte art, or the craft of carefully pouring steamed milk into espresso and moving the foam around in order to create an image, has produced many ephemeral but viral creative works. The process has now been digitized and is taking off in coffee shops in China. At Let's Café in Taiwan, a customer follows these steps to get their own photo printed onto their drink:

1. Order a latte.
2. Upload a picture of themselves with a smartphone to the shop's app.
3. Await the realistically-decorated, hot, caffeinated beverage.

Meanwhile, the barista will crop the photo and use a coffee printed to transfer a somewhat paler, earth-toned copy of the photo onto the drink, using chocolate powder, coffee and edible ink. The business expressed in an advertisement that the latte art has boosted its image and sales. It launched the initiative with a couples' Valentines Day photo extravaganza.

In Beijing, customers can also use a smartphone and a QR code (a square matrix or two-dimensional barcode) to send their image request to coffee shop staff.

"[W]e want to provide a more unique, more interactive experience, which is why we came up with this print-your-own face idea," coffee shop owner Lister Liu said (translated from Mandarin).

Full-color versions of the coffee printer are also on the market and this culinary trend is gaining popularity world-wide.

RippleMaker is a smaller type of coffee-printer that is advertised for home or café use - it sells for $999 and also charges a monthly fee.

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About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech, conservation and the arts. She enjoys solutions journalism. Find more of her work at
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