There’s a neighborhood of Tokyo named Kuramae that has a distinctly mid-century feel to it thanks to the old shops that line the streets. Located right next to the popular tourist town of Asakusa, it’s slowly been developing into a pretty hip town as more and more bars, variety stores, and cafes open up throughout the neighborhood.
We checked out one of those new cafes called HATCOFFEE, which just opened up in June this year. Though they’ve only been around for a short time, they’ve been making waves on Instagram for their custom 3D latte art.
They have eight kinds of lattes you can choose from for your latte art: Cafe Latte, Cafe Mocha, Choco Latte, Caramel Latte, Vanilla Latte, Tea Latte, and Seasonal Latte. Once you pick your flavor, you show them a picture or photo of what you want your latte art to be. Animals, people — they can pretty much do anything you want, and if it’s a famous character, you don’t even have to show them a picture.
Then you have the choice between making your latte art 2D or 3D. Most people will be familiar 2D latte art, where the designs are drawn into flat milk on top of the coffee. For 3D art, the milk is whipped up into a three-dimensional figure, which is then decorated to look like whatever you choose.
Our Japanese language reporter Mai was the lucky one who got to visit this cafe, so she chose to have a 2D portrait done of her beloved cat Baru-kun, as well as 3D design of her favorite Sanrio character Pom Pom Purin. Of course, she had to show them a picture of Baru-kun, but Pom Pom Purin is famous enough that she only needed to say the name to the cashier.
They make the lattes right in front of you, so you get to watch how it’s done, which is pretty cool. The process for both the 2-D and 3-D starts with making an outline out of the milk, which forms into the general shape of your picture. For the 2-D art, they draw the details using a small stick and espresso.
In other words, the milk acts as the canvas, while espresso is the ink.
While the 2D latte art uses liquid milk gently poured into the coffee to create the “canvas”, the 3D art uses whipped milk that is carefully spooned on then molded into the shape of the design chosen. From a layman’s perspective, it looks pretty complicated.
The one who makes the art is the owner of HATCOFFEE, who has had experience overseas as well. Their speedy attention to detail is just like a pro: it only took them about five minutes to create one latte cup. When Mai asked about why they make it so fast, they responded, “If you take your time, the coffee gets cold, so speed is of the utmost importance.”
Here’s how the finished product looked.
The 2D rendition of Mai’s beloved Baru-kun looks just like him! Baru-kun is a gray tabby cat with some white spots, and the top of his head is a little darker than the rest of his body, with the trademark “M” shape of the tabby. The fact that they picked up on the subtle details of Baru-kun’s coloring and incorporated that into the latte art really impressed Mai.
And here’s the 3D Pom Pom Purin.
It’s so lifelike. Since it’s made of foam, if you move the cup, Pom Pom Purin moves too, which makes it all the more fun. Mai especially appreciated that they made sure to include the butthole and tail as well, which as some will know are essential components to Pom Pom Purin’s cuteness.
Mai was so satisfied with how it looked that she almost forgot to taste the coffee!
The flavor was so good that every sip produced a content sigh from her lips. She chose a Cafe Latte for the 2D art, and a caramel latte for the 3D art, and both were full of flavor. Mai thought that this coffee shop would do well even without the latte art, just because their coffee is that good.
Both the 2D and 3D latte arts cost 1,200 yen each. That’s a little more expensive than lattes in most other cafes in Japan, but Mai didn’t really think of it as expensive, since they use great skill in creating your requested design, without compromising on the flavor of the coffee. If you try it once, you’ll be satisfied, she said.
By the way, they also have all kinds of drinks besides lattes. Their menu includes coffee drinks like espresso, soft drinks, and even beer and cocktails. Plus they have food, including hot dishes and desserts, so this might be a great place to stop for lunch on your way to rent a kimono and stroll around the Asakusa temples. Just don’t forget to bring a picture of what you want your latte art to be.
Address: Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Kotobuki 3-15-6
Hours: Tues-Sun 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Lunch offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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