Okay, so latte art is pretty. And fun, once you get the hang of it. But has anyone noticed an increase in sales due to latte art? Do customers really tell their friends, "Dude, you've GOT to see this!"?
Personally, it doesn't seem to have an increase in sales but it does help motivate the employees. They seem to get a kick out of being the best barista. It also seems to keep them focused on consistent quality drinks because you can't do it without great espresso and great froth. As for the time it takes once you get good it doesn't take any extra time at all.
You raise a very important point; one that we emphasize in our training curriculum. Latte art is a good motivational tool to excite new trainees about the possibilities that await as their barista skills develop; however, you should always stress the importance of a drink tasting good.
We have been approached by shop owners and trainees that wish to learn how to make the rosetta, heart or other images that they've seen on some video even before they know how to pull an espresso shot! It is important to channel this enthusiasm into less visually exciting, but more practical underlying barista skills. A rosetta atop a 10 second shot will not sell more drinks.
Latte art should be reserved as the crowning achievement of a skilled barista's abilities and not practiced in a commercial environment until that barista can consistently demonstrate the quick and correct execution of a proper traditional drink with minimal waste.
A well-formed traditional cappuccino is more difficult to create than most people expect; obtaining the correct color distribution, foam density, foam consistency, temperature and flavor is not an easy task -- but when done correctly, I believe that it is a far more beautiful sight than any gimmicky design.
Sorry about the rant...kinda off topic.
I never owned a shop where latte art was an issue. Mostly high volume get in and get out because I would be slammed with customers for about 20 minuites out of every hour(between classes) however a few of my barista did it and it helped their tips but not my sales. Really I think it helped their love lives more than anything...can't hurt but not something I would invest too much time or money into.
A pig is still a pig no matter how you dress it up. I totally agree that the focus should be on technique and taste first, art second. Art is a great bonus, in fact its something I hope continues to be a draw as a reason for people to come into a shop and not just pop in and get a cup to go.
I hate to be an $#@%^%#...But art work is for the walls. :twisted: The most important things relating to the drink is the coffee and the milk, if milk is used. Anything additional doesn't apply :shock:
If you are easily grossed out, you might not want to ready any further.
When I was studying in Switzerland 20 years ago, I did a case study on sustainable agriculture that looked at pork production. That is really not a clean business, and a slaughterhouse is probably one of the last places you'd expect to find art.
In modern pork processing plants, the hogs are transported in on trucks, then killed and strung up by their hind legs on a conveyor. When they enter the slaughterhouse itself, the first cut opens the belly of the pig and all the guts and innards come out. It is the most extreme messy, gross, smelly job I can imagine.
The plant engineers were looking at designing a machine to do this job so that a person would not have to do it. When they talked with the man doing this job, his response was unexpected. Every pig is different. Some are bigger, others fatter, some not entirely symmetrical. Each cut was specific to the pig. Sometimes it was a straight cut, other times more of a lazy S.
Sure, it was a question of efficiency and getting the most meat from the pig. More than that, the pig cutter had found an art in that gross task of slicing open 300 pigs a day. It was an expression of who he was and the excellence in his craft.
Your customers don't come in upside down on a conveyor belt, but your employees are every bit as human as the pig cutter. That means that somewhere in them is a need to find an art - a discipline of expression.
You can't pull it out of them - they gotta wanna. But when they do, it brings a sense of excellence and pride to their work.
Does that mean that customers who are backed up out the door are going to be happier knowing that someone in front of them is getting a latte art version of Eduard Moench's "The Scream"? F'k no.
Do we sell more coffee when our employees have a sense of excellence and pride - even passion - in their work? Hell yes.
Even if the art doesn't please the customer it does please the barista. This inturn will make for a better work environment leading to friendlier customer relations leading to higher sales. It may just be a little thing but "a penny saved" my friends.