Latte lessons

For­get es­presso and milk – there is a whole world of ex­treme lat­tes out there. Are you a mush­room, char­coal or rain­bow fan, and what does your drink say about you? By Tim Jonze

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Mush­room latte. That’s where civil­i­sa­tion is at in 2017. Where pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions were blessed with space flight, an­tibi­otics or a deeper un­der­stand­ing of Coper­ni­can he­lio­cen­trism, this one gets fun­gus­flavoured milk. In­deed, the mush­room latte is the lat­est (latte-est?) in a long line of re­cent hot-drink sen­sa­tions – the matcha latte, the blue al­gae latte, the turmeric latte – and some­how man­ages to sur­pass them all.

How­ever, delve deeper into the world of Ex­treme Lat­tes and you’ll dis­cover that mush­room ones are noth­ing spe­cial. There are beet­root lat­tes, car­rot cake lat­tes and laven­der lat­tes out there. There are sake lat­tes and egg lat­tes. There is even a glit­ter latte and a pearl latte, prov­ing that when you have run out of ev­ery known food­stuff – pulled pork latte, any­one? – you can sim­ply move into the world of the ined­i­ble. But what do such drinks tell us about the per­son who buys them?

Char­coal latte

Tor­ment and gloom are en­twined at the very base­ment of your soul, cursed to per­form the dark dance of mis­ery for all eter­nity. So what bet­ter way to ex­press this than through the medium of steamed milk, prefer­ably with a pretty mono­chrome flower driz­zled on top? You are the Al­bert Ca­mus of cof­fee cul­ture, your latte a long black trench­coat to pro­tect you from the plague rains above. The world is a bleak, har­row­ing place, but only you really feel the pain. Largely be­cause you’ve just splurged the best part of a fiver on a luke­warm drink con­tain­ing coal.

Blue al­gae latte

Sure, some peo­ple might think that this cof­fee-free, milk-free drink says noth­ing about you other than: “I will add lit­er­ally any­thing to hot liq­uid if it turns it a pretty colour so that I can post it on In­sta.” But that would be to dis­miss the mul­ti­fac­eted per­son­al­ity traits in­her­ent in all who im­bibe this mix of gin­ger, le­mon, co­conut milk, agave and – mmm, is that my saliva glands work­ing over­time? – blue al­gae pow­der.

Matcha latte

You used to be some­body, you and your bright green drink in­fused with ground green tea. But you got com­pla­cent, didn’t you? You thought be­ing ahead of the curve was an achieve­ment in it­self, rather than the first step to­wards a life­time of edgesurf­ing anx­i­ety. And now look what’s hap­pened – you’re Rick Wake­man, won­der­ing why tick­ets aren’t shift­ing for your King Arthur On Ice mu­si­cal. Mush­room latte

Why haz­ard a guess about what kind of per­son buys a mush­room latte when Charisse Baker, the founder of East Lon­don Juice Co, al­ready has the an­swer. Her com­pany makes funghi­fied cof­fee us­ing lo­cally for­aged ’shrooms and home­made organic Span­ish al­mond “mylk”, and claims the drink leaves you “feel­ing a lit­tle more ready to deal with city life”. Mush­room latte will help you get one over the other Hen­rys and Taras on the stock ex­change. Drink­ing them will make you rich.

And only a lit­tle bit sick.

Rain­bow latte

Cheer up, char­coal latte fans, and take a mul­ti­coloured leaf out of this drinker’s book! Be­cause where you see an over­priced base of steamed milk, they see a can­vas. Where you see a list of in­creas­ingly im­plau­si­ble dyes and su­per­food pow­ders that sound as if you should need some kind of pre­scrip­tion to or­der them, they see the very paints that Jack­son Pol­lock him­self once hurled. And if spirulina dust tastes like Satan’s very own nail clip­pings, then that’s just the sac­ri­fice a true artist must make these days.

Roasted gar­lic latte

When news reached you that a 74-year-old Ja­panese man had in­vented a cof­fee-flavoured drink with­out us­ing cof­fee beans (Yok­it­omo Shi­mo­tai stum­bled on the in­ven­tion af­ter burn­ing gar­lic), you had al­ready trade­marked Gar­latte and set up your pop-up stall. The zeit­geist will only ever be some­thing you’ve no­ticed in your rearview mir­ror. And with­out peo­ple like you, we’d all still be drink­ing Nescafé.

A nor­mal latte with just, like, es­presso and milk and noth­ing daft added for nov­elty ef­fect

You’re … well, what are you ex­actly? Who even are you? How do we ask you that ques­tion when you’re lit­er­ally in­vis­i­ble?

Cof­fee cul­ture … rain­bow lat­tes (main pic­ture); matcha green tea latte (above)

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