Behind the Foam with a World-Traveling Latte Artist
Michael Breach, a Brooklyn-based social media celeb, was in Boston to highlight the new espresso program at Dunkin'.
It’s a new day at Dunkin’: The Canton-based company is in the midst of a modern rebrand, dropping the “donuts” from its name and refreshing its cafés with sleek light woods and well-lit pastry cases, plus an upgraded espresso program and coffee drinks on draft. To help spread the word, Brooklyn-based latte artist Michael Breach—better known as @BaristArt to his 100,000 followers on Instagram—is on tour with Dunkin’, swinging by renovated shops across the country this fall to make foam illustrations to order.
Boston caught up with Breach at a remodeled Dunkin’ in the Financial District on Monday to learn more about the life of a traveling latte artist—from working with clients like Marvel and Disney, to making people’s day with a milk-foam recreation of their beloved dog.
What’s your go-to coffee order?
I like iced coffee, year-round. Lately, I’ve been drinking hot tea a lot because I have to speak a lot.
What’s a typical day like for a world-renowned latte artist?
I hear a lot of people’s stories. It’s not just [people’s faces] I’m making—it can be any photo they give me. It could be a someone’s labrador. I drew a Jeep the other day. I’ve even done a wedding proposal. It’s really cool how personal these things can get.
So clients like Dunkin’ hire you, but also average people?
I’ve been hired by celebrities before. I was hired by royalty once. The Prince of Kuwait sent me an email. He opened a coffeeshop there, and he invited me over for five days of in-store events like this one. I’ve done food festivals in Abu Dhabi, I’ve done South by Southwest. I’ve done stuff with Disney, and for Comic Con. It’s so amazing the opportunities and places it sends me.
Do you have any other mediums?
Hot chocolate, maybe.
Oh, I meant, do you have an art background?
I never went to art school, no. I’ve just always been an artist growing up. My grandfather was a portrait artist, so I think that’s where it comes from. I started [doing latte art] traditionally, [with] hearts, rosettas, swans, and that kind of thing. But I’m not really into following those rules, especially if you’re calling it “art.” My only rule is that it’s all edible. I have a background doing cake decorating, so that’s part of what got me into using supplies like food coloring and edible glitters. I wouldn’t consider myself a barista. I’m more of an artist. I just love doing this kind of thing and getting people’s reactions. People get so much out of such a small little thing. It’ll really just make someone’s day. I love this medium so much, I like to explore the boundaries of it.
What are some more of your elaborate designs?
Really, whatever people ask me to do I will try my best to recreate. It’s like improv. That’s the best part about it: I figure out new things all the time. One of my bigger clients is Marvel, and they always give me challenges. Everything I have done with them is something I’ve never done before.
How long do the designs take you?
About 5-6 minutes. I try to keep them as quick as possible, because people don’t want to wait too long.
Is it sad to see someone just drink your work?
Absolutely not. I love it when they drink it. [The designs] fade away, anyway. It sounds kind of cheesy, but think of it like a sunset. Enjoy it while it’s happening. It’s fleeting. You can take a picture, or just really enjoy that moment.
Michael Breach is on-site making latte art at the renovated Dunkin’ at 153 Massachusetts Ave., from 4-5:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 19.