IS COFFEE AN ART?
- Definition of art
- Evolution of coffee
- Coffee as an expression form
- Can a barista be considered an artist?
DEFINITION OF ART
Before answering this question, first, I would like to define what is art, so that we are speaking in the same terms and to avoid any misunderstandings.
Art is defined by the Oxford dictionary as the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
So basically art is the human activity focused on producing emotions by the expression of tangible or intangible works through creativity.
Think about your favorite song or painting, how do they make you feel? In this sense, art is the vehicle for recreating emotions or feelings that humans have used to express themselves for thousands of years. (e.g. Cave painting)
In my opinion, art is a way of communicating things that cannot be explained with spoken language.
EVOLUTION OF COFFEE
If you know a little bit of the origins of coffee you would know that it has been around for more than a thousand years of human history. During this 1,000-year period, coffee culture has evolved in a lot of ways: Farming techniques have changed drastically to ensure quality, roasting processes have evolved to enhance coffees properties, coffee blends have been developed to create harmony between different flavor profiles, and many brewing methods have been invented in the last century.
In brief, coffee has evolved from just a “caffeine kick” to a more sophisticated and diverse kind of beverage. This evolution has been happening thanks to people from all over the world in all sides of the coffee journey, as we like to say “from the seed to the cup”. From committed farmers all the way to a more knowledgeable consumer base.
COFFEE AS A WAY OF EXPRESSION
As you know, many of us who consider ourselves as creatives, use coffee as an “inspiration drink”. Which I personally think is better than alcohol, especially taking into consideration the harmful effects of alcoholic drinks.
Other than the obvious connection between creative work and coffee, I support the idea that the process of making coffee is a way of expression by itself. And this long process often starts a long way from where the finished product (the drink) is consumed, this artistic process starts from the very farms in which coffee is grown, it takes a lot of steps just to be able to harvest a high-quality coffee plant.
On the other side of the coffee process, we find baristas, which over the last few decades have become more and more appreciated because of their ability to create extraordinary beverages. Some baristas find their “canvas” for expressing themselves through coffee, thus creating new ways of brewing coffee, cocktail recipes, and great blends. As a great painter who carefully chooses which color he will use, a great barista has the ability to choose from the different types of coffees and the different types of flavors contained in them in order to create an outstanding drink.
CAN A BARISTA BE CONSIDERED AN ARTIST?
Simply put, yes and no. But I would like to go more into depth with this answer so bear with me. As with every kind of art, there are many skill levels in which artists can be separated from mere craftsmen or women. Just because you can hold a brush does not mean that you are like Picasso right? So the same principle applies to coffee, just because you can make coffee it does not mean that you are an artist. Otherwise, everyone who works at a coffee shop would be considered an artist. And so the meaning of artist should be, one who has obtained such great skills that can be able to express themselves to a way that can delight a lot of people.
A great barista, in my opinion, is the one who can choose the best coffee or coffees and turn them into an extraordinary beverage. In the same way as a writer chooses the right words, or a musician the perfect notes a barista takes something with potential and turns it into art.
All in all, I would say that coffee can be in fact considered an art.
The beautiful thing about coffee is that is is an ephemeral art, this means that once it is consumed, the work of art is gone, at least the physical part of it. But the feelings and the memories evoked while drinking it remain with the one who had it.
In this sense, coffee is an art that is consumed and each experience will be totally different, even if it was the same beverage and the same barista. Another great thing about the art of coffee is that it captures more than one sense(taste, smell, and sight) so it could be considered a multi-sensorial art.