June 09, 2014

In the age of #selfies, Tinder swipes, Instagram, and Facebook, it can be challenging for faces to stand out from the plethora of media muck hailing down on us 24/7. But, every once in a while, someone gets a lucky break. Such is the case with bored-night-shift-hotel-barista turned international-latte-portrait-artist, Michael Breach.

In an effort to make a buck on the off hours, Michael began working as a full-time barista at The Breslin, the upscale gastropub at Ace Hotel. There, he turned his job slinging lattes into an art medium.

As one could well imagine, Michael was driven to boredom some nights. In an effort to amuse himself, and get over a breakup, he began to play with steamed milk and espresso coffee into the wee hours of his shifts.

He slyly stole bamboo cocktail sticks from the bar and used them to draw detailed portraits on the foamy milk. He found it meditative because it demanded such acute focus...hence the ex couldn’t rear her head into his latte portraiture. He began with faces of famous people. John Lennon was one of his very first portraits—because, who doesn’t like John Lennon?

Next, he continued with the faces of his friends and colleagues at the restaurant. We’ve all seen the pretty heart and the occasional dove sitting on top of our morning latte, but have we ever really considered it...art? But Michael has an uncanny, innate talent for creating an ephemeral image that will match one's face—wrinkles, furrowed brow, dimples and all—or the opposite, if you’ve recently undergone a great botox treatment. The clientele is varied.

Taken aback by the reactions and enthusiasm of his colleagues, Michael started an Instagram account, cleverly labeling it “Baristart.” His fanbase exploded. Today, he has over 38,000 followers. 

Once on the social media map, Michael’s latte portraiture fame allowed him to quit his job as a barista, get commissioned, and travel all over the world. He recently spent a month in Australia on Nescafe’s dime for an international PR campaign and is returning soon. Next month he is being sent to South Africa. He is a regular at Prada events, after all, Italians love a good espresso and love looking at themselves #matchmadeinheaven. He has even been commissioned to do marriage proposals on lattes.

Michael loves his art due to its ephemeral nature. We can put down the phone for a minute, enjoy our morning brew in contemplation, and live in the moment—but don’t wait too long, or it will get cold and the image will foam-over. Isn’t Michael’s art a lesson for us all to enjoy the moment, because it won’t last forever?

Just don’t ask for almond milk, please.

 

Guest-blogger Isabelle Dungan is an NYC-based actress and contributor to TravelandLeisure.com.

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