By Zak Stone
If you'd ever like to have coffee with Beyoncé or Hillary Clinton, barista Mike Breach can make it happen. It'll only last a few minutes, of course, and the celebrity's face will start to blur and eventually disappear over the course of your coffee date.
A master of the art of the latte portrait, Breach can muster whatever face he wants into life by carving them from milk foam with a bamboo skewer. The result is an ephemeral portrait that you'd love to save forever, until the moment you throw it down the hatch. Famous people never provided such a caffeine jolt.
"When I pull a shot and I put it into a cup and I see the different colors swirling around, that's like my palette." he told Storyboard in a recent video profile. "Coffee is my medium."
But the hobby grew out of simple boredom. Working an espresso machine out of sight in the back of a hotel, he began developing new techniques to capture different facial details. He's been posting pictures of the results on his Tumblr for more than a year now and has painted everyone from Shakespeare to Jerry Garcia to Britney Spears.
In a culture where coffee snobbery can turn off some casual drinkers, Breach says he wants to be the drink's Willy Wonka, to make coffee "interesting and fun for people, take the pretentiousness out of it."
He adds, "the whole thing kind of is a joke because [the portraits] dissipate after a while. It's gonna be gone in like three minutes." But at the same time, he calls the art works very personal: They represent a relationship between him and the drinker. "I've actually just painted it for that person to see." And then it's gone.
Copyright 2013 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.