Sippin’ pretty WHERE TO FIND BEYOND BASIC LATTE ART
You need coffee. You can do your daily caffeine routine in the sleep from which you’ve barely emerged, whether it’s fumbling for a preset cup at home or shuffling along the line at Dunkin’. But when you can actually take a break, be it brunch or a post-project reward, where are the special coffee drinks in Chicago?
In a town where people still wait hours to Instagram their Au Cheval cheeseburger, and the Alinea bacon trapeze ranks as a culinary classic, it’s surprising that so few craft coffeehouses make pretty, much less glittery, coffee art. After tasting every single sparkly cup currently in the city, I can tell you, they’re (mostly) downright delightful. And maybe counterintuitively, they’re often a sign of some serious coffee.
While the latte art of hearts and tulips remains highly regarded, some coffee professionals are diving deeper beneath the surface, considering the whole drink as a canvas for culinary creation. Yet it’s still a relative rarity. Among dozens of craft coffee shops in Chicago, only four shops are going beyond classic latte art.
The practice landed here big after restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff and his Hogsalt Hospitality team met Hiroshi Sawada, the award-winning latte artist, at his Streamer Coffee Co. in Tokyo. Together they opened Sawada Coffee in Fulton Market in 2015 with the trademarked Military Latte. It’s made by mixing vegetal green matcha powder and house-made vanilla syrup, feathering steamed milk in the house style and finishing with a Metropolis Coffee espresso shot plus cocoa powder on top. The Black Camo latte uses a stark black hojicha roasted green tea powder instead. You can also find both beautifully balanced drinks at Sawada Matcha in River North, which opened in February.
Goddess and the Baker partners chef Debbie Sharpe and Tamar Mizrahi introduced a limited edition rainbow latte for Pride month in 2017, which they brought back this June, but I missed it. “We try to keep the rainbow lattes special,” said Mizrahi. “We don’t want it to turn mundane.”
She’s also puzzled as to why the pretty latte trend has largely skipped Chicago so far, unlike Amsterdam; Berlin; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Melbourne, Australia, Sharpe’s
The Beet Rose Latte at Limitless Coffee in the West Loop.