Meet Mike Breach, Baristart
Mike Breach, otherwise known as @baristart, has been making ‘Latte Art’ since he moved to NYC from Baltimore, Maryland three years ago. Working out of The Smile Cafe at Milk Studios (among other coffee joints) he took a break from amusing his co-workers and wowing his customers to talk to us about the concept and his creations.
Milk Made: Talk to us about how and why you began playing with your coffee.
Mike Breach: It all started in a rather unique situation. I had a lot of time on my hands, an espresso machine and an audience in the form of my co-workers. I started to experiment with coffee, ‘Latte Art’. After learning what seemed to be everything there was to know (making hearts or squiggles in the coffee) I asked myself why not take this further, if this is an art why is nobody taking it to the next level?
MM: Do you drink coffee? Did you know that coffee was discovered by a goat?
MB: A lot, however I don’t drink Latte Art as I prefer iced coffee!
Yes, goats were eating the coffee, in Ethiopia where it’s indigenous, and farmers were watching them jump around! Once people started to drink coffee, Islam had a large part in spreading its use. It was pretty much the only stimulant people of that religion were allowed to consume. No drugs or alcohol for them – so they drank a lot of coffee!
MM: How do you like working at The Smile at Milk Studios?
MB: People have been so supportive of me here, photographers and models will spread the word about my portraits that they are drinking. I made some lattes for the Victoria’s Secret girls recently and Adriana Lima Instagrammed hers, which was very flattering.
MM: At MILK, we’ve been enjoying hearing some of your witty names for the characters in your art, please can you give our readers a taste of some of your favorites?
MB: Oh let me see, there’s a bunch of them; Ralph Macchiato, Leonardo Di Cappuccino, Kurt Kobean, James Bean, Brew Barrymore, Natalie Portafilter, Quentin Tarranccino…
I like to make people laugh and have fun at the barista station where I work. One of my favorite characters is Yoda, that one comes with a little saying,’Coffee this is, drink it you will’.
MM: Do you have any tips for ‘Latte Art’ beginners?
MB: Knowing how to draw is very important. Experiment and then when you find something you like, practice it. I’m still discovering new methods, I’m using more than one coffee now like two or three mugs to make up one image. I’ve been experimenting with some 3D latte art, actually sculpting the foam. I managed to make Hans Solo in carbonate once!
MM: Did you know coffee was made illegal three times since the 16th century. In the unlikely event that this were to happen again do you have any non coffee related dreams or ambitions?
MB: Funny you should say that. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with Bitters – making art with Bitters on top of egg whites. It works just like coffee so I’ve been doing some portraits in that medium. Other than that, I’m a musician and was in a few bands in Baltimore, Maryland where I’m from. If coffee was illegal I would bootleg that shit, underground shops and speak easy’s.
MM: It seems you’ve been taking the Social Media world by storm. What are your aspirations with ‘Latte Art’?
MB: Yeah kind of, it started with Instagram putting me on suggested users and overnight I had 22k followers! After that, Tumblr made a video, which went viral, and now I’m being approached by TV networks. So many emails from press not just in the US but the UK and all over the world.
MM: You need a manager.
MB: Absolutely so that I can be myself and get on with my art and have fun with it, because at the moment everything is a little serious. I would like to get into advertising and I think that there should be a place for coffee on the Food Network, after all everyone drinks it!
MM: Mike, good luck with everything but before you go, where is the best coffee in New York City?
MB: Ninth Street Espresso.
MM: Thank you.
Photos by: Andrew Boyle