Editor’s note: I first met the legendary Gloria Montenegro Chirouze, owner of La Cafeotheque de Paris, France, when I was in Milan a few years ago at a La Marzocco Out of the Box event. She’s simply wonderful both as a person and a visionary: it’s widely agreed upon that her cafe was the first truly specialty, third wave coffeehouse in Paris, and Gloria is constantly working to provide services and forums for baristas and coffee enthusiasts. She just wants to see interest grow. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Christina Chirouze, the founder of L’Attitude Cafeto, a nonprofit organization that brought coffee and art together in a most unique way on June 15 at Cafeotheque. Barista Magazine was a proud sponsor of the event. You see, this was not at all like a typical latte art competition—it was something entirely its own. We at Barista Magazine strive to support as many creative coffee endeavors as we can for the sake of our barista community; keeping you engaged and passionate it our number one priority. I asked Christina and Gloria to tell me in their own words about the event, so here it is, along with some remarkable photos.
The BArtista Project: Some Impressions
By Christina Chirouze
To me, coffee and art are connected. Because I was studying cultural management while I acquainted myself with coffee, I always linked these two universes, both of which rely on passion, taste, and attention to the details. Isn’t a good espresso a perfect art work?
The more I saw the latte art, the more I loved it, but also the more I wished to see other figures on the milk foam and coffee. As I wandered recently on Youtube, I discovered that some baristas had already started the movement. But my idea was slightly different: why not start a partnership between baristas and artists? The BARTISTA PROJECT was born, in my head. We just needed to make it happen! L’Attitude Cafeto, a non-profit organization I created in 2011 with some friends, would be in charge of it. The challenge was important: we wanted it to happen before the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe’s World of Coffee event, which will take place June 26-28 for the time in France this year. That meant organizing everything within a month!
But we were lucky: La Cafeotheque generously agreed to host the event, and people started to respond with enthusiasm! We were very proud to have Barista Magazine’s support. Besides, artists started to practice at La Cafeotheque, and the baristas got fully involved in the project.
The rules were as follows:
—Besides of the cappuccino (“ready-made”), the artists would have at their disposal: liquid caramel, chocolate powder, artificial colorants (red, yellow and blue), extra milk foam, cinnamon, and sugar-stars.
—They could also bring a secret ingredient of their choice.
—The partner-barista would have to listen to each artist’s requirements prior to making the cappuccino.
—The time for each work would be limited to 2 minutes.
—Then, the judges would examine first the aesthetic characteristics and then taste the cappuccino in order to evaluate also the taste.
—There would be 2 rounds: the 1st one with a cappuccino, the 2nd one with a cappuccino and a machiatto!
When the D-Day arrived, we had 2 judges: Michel Pinosa, a gallerist and visual artist who works with China ink, and Kianoush Ramezani, a famous cartoonist who had previously made drawings with coffee. We also had 5 artists participating. La Cafeotheque’s master barista, Yadh Elyes, would create the drinks. The event was filmed by a duo of documentary filmmakers and professional photos were taken by Valentina Miraglia while sketches were made by Zoia Skoropadenko, whose works are exhibitied presently on La Cafeotheque’s walls.
The artists did a wonderful job! Little by little, they got to know the material (coffee and milk foam) and they played with all the ingredients with a surprising sense of visual composition! The cappuccinos were transformed by their hands and creativity to ephemeral works of art that appealed to all the senses: the vision, the smell, the taste, the touch.
The whole contest lasted for nearly 3 hours!! The judges were very serious in their job and the public in attendance enjoyed the show a lot!
The winner of this 1st chapter is Anna Koho, a Finnish artist who is presently a resident at Cité Internationale des Arts. She was happy to receive a subscription for 1 year to Barista Magazine!
Bravo to the BArtistas! The BArtista Project is officially born!
From Gloria Montenegro, La Cafeotheque - founder:
I am proud of the latte art of La Cafeotheque’s baristas. We train baristas every day in our school of coffeeology. Nevertheless, we always knew that our latte art is actually a “latte handicraft”: it could be a perfect tulip, heart, or rosetta. But art can be much more than that.
Christina Chirouze, master in cultural management, is in charge of the cultural life of La Cafeotheque, and also president of the non-profit organization L’Attitude Cafeto, which is dedicated to introducing art and culture in the coffee world. She naturally proposed us to host the 1st “BArtista Project”. The first chapter of a competition was born, with rules, participants and a professional jury. Lights, camera, action! The results were amazing.
L’Attitude Cafeto intends to do a new chapter every 6 months. Welcome BARTISTAS to the world of coffee people!
Photography by Valentina Miraglia