You might want to linger over your mocha or lattes by Melannie Aquino, a barista at the Elite Audio Coffee Bar in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood. Mostly because as you can see from the following photos, they’re dazzling masterpieces in a cup.
Melannie uses a metal skewer and a pot of chocolate to draw remarkably detailed sketches of everything from sweet-faced pugs to London’s Big Ben atop the frothy foam. Aquino, who grew up in Hawaii and moved to San Francisco 10 years ago, was recently named the best coffee artist in the world by Mashable. Without question she’s the best in San Francisco.“I thought that was a really bold statement…” Aquino says. “I may be one of the best, but I don’t think I’m the best. It’s a lot about perception.”
Most coffee art is made by “free pouring” steamed milk into a shot of espresso and adjusting the pour to create certain patterns and designs. The drawing method, Aquino says, is unique and she knows of only a few other “drawing” artists through Instagram.
“With a latte, the picture starts degrading after a few minutes,” she says. “Whereas with a mocha it sticks together for about 20 minutes.”
Whole milk works best, while almond doesn’t cooperate.
Corgi dogs are currently the most commonly requested, and unicorns were popular for a while. R2D2 is also a favorite because a video of her creating the droid was featured on Instagram on Star Wars Day. She won’t do portraits or company logos. Once a girl used one of her creations to ask a boy out to prom. “While he was in the bathroom, she ordered his drink and asked me to write ‘Prom?'” she says. “He said yes.”Aquino has always been a doodler, but she says her ability improved when she was studying film at the Academy of Art and required to take a drawing class.
“I’ve always been doodling throughout my life, but that class really showed me the basics of shape and shadowing and that’s where I learned to make my drawings a little more refined,” she says.
Moving to San Francisco and going to art school wasn’t what Aquino’s parents had in mind for their daughter. “It’s one of those things where they wanted me to go to college and get a stable job,” she says. “And they wanted me to stay in Hawaii.”
But now that Aquino has over 22,000 followers on Instagram, websites calling her the best at her craft and people from all over the world coming to Elite to order her creations, she says her parents are proud, and most importantly she’s happy with what she’s doing.
When I’m next in San Francisco I can’t wait for my JiaJia (he’s my sheltie dog)
latteooops, I mean mocha with whole milk
Source: Amy Graff for SF Gate