Sometimes it’s the little things in life that keep us sane. Personally, when I’m slammed between paper deadlines, exams, presentations, unanswered emails, and overflowing grocery lists, a latte heart can feel like a sign from the heavens that someone cares to help me through the stress – even if that someone is a four-eyed flannel-wearing barista who gave me soy instead of almond milk and misspelled my name. The heart in my latte is a symbol to slow down, to stop and smell my coffee, to inhale its bittersweet fumes with awareness, and to acknowledge the common essence that has fueled writers for centuries. Its aesthetics of simplicity is a reminder that regardless of the work I accomplish in my ephemeral coffee shop power hours, everything will be okay.
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the faces behind my latte hearts at the Vienna Coffee Festival. This event, held at Vienna’s Ottakringer Brewery, featured expositions, espresso tastings, live coffee-crafting demos, and latte art competitions with some of Vienna’s best brands in coffee, including Coffee Pirates, Alt Wien Kaffee, and Vienna School of Coffee. Through the java showcasings, visitors had a beautiful opportunity to improve our bean to brew coffee knowledge through one-on-one interaction with experts in the art of the coffee trade. For these fleeting hours of my weekend afternoon, I found myself completely immersed in the many mesmerizing, meditative coffee aromas. My eyes were glued to my front-row view of my baristas as they were held on the clock in a challenge to correctly match cups of coffee with their geographic origins from taste alone. I was hypnotized as I witnessed an impromptu "einfach" (easy) latte heart-making educational demonstration.
As if all this weren’t enough to put me in a coffee-lover’s stupor, I met the icing on the cake (and the whipped cream on my mocha) when I encountered a latte face-printing machine. No, that wasn’t a typo. Yes, you can actually have your face printed with precision on the top of your daily cup of joe. Using 3-D printing technology and an ink-jet system fueled by natural coffee extract, the clever device featured at the festival uses a photo-app to transfer an image of your smiling face to the top of your cappuccino’s milk froth. Why would I ever again need a heart to appear on my hot coffee when I can now have Hemingway’s stone-cold expression affirming me of my social responsibility to write?
Under the spell of coffee-laced profiles and strong caffeine, the Vienna Coffee Festival felt buzzing with possibility. The in-depth food literacy imparted by these types of events represent an ideal means for cultivating a network of consumer connoisseurs who are both informed on the ethical implications of bean to brew production and appreciative of the edible art that global society’s liquid electricity should be. Let us raise our daily cups and share a “Prost” (cheers) for this bittersweet beverage’s celebrated capacity to forever awaken our world.