Art in the 21st century comes in many forms. You may have views on animal sculptures made out of rubbish or portraits composed of M&Ms, but what of pouring coffee?
If anyone can convince you of the artistry involved in such an undertaking - and we'd wager it's not even something Marx would have called "artisanal" - it may well be Peter Hernou, a former winner of something called the World Latte Art Championship and, ergo, a past master at mixing milk in with espresso.
In Hong Kong earlier this month to promote the Asian release of his new book, Latte Arte - which was crowned world's best coffee book at the Gourmand Cookbook Awards, no less - Hernou is possessed of a scalding passion for his bean-based calling.
"Coffee is about so much more than boosting energy levels," says the Belgian, whose tome covers the history of coffee and coffee-making, basic bean knowledge and brewing and serving methods. "A perfect cup of coffee is a combination of huge resources and great efforts, and from planting to brewing, all require exacting skills."
Think about that as you sip your morning brew, then. And before you flip this page and reach for the sports section to use as a coaster, be assured that Hernou has your best interests at heart, for he has the froth of mass-market coffee culture in his sights and is about to take aim. In conjunction with chocolatier and sweet purveyor Belgian Confectionery, later this year he intends to open a coffee shop, in an as-yet undisclosed location in Hong Kong, that will introduce the city to his own signature beans, all carefully selected from Guatemala, Rwanda, Ecuador, Ethiopia and Brazil.
"My mission as a coffee master is to promote coffee culture throughout the world, and take coffee to a whole new level through exquisite taste, knowledge, skills and latte arte," says Hernou, who seems determined to lay the grounds for a coffee revolution here. He's poured his arte into it, certainly.
Latte Arte is available at Page One www.pageonegroup.com The book, and Hernou's signature coffee beans, can also be ordered through Belgian Confectionery (call 2575 8825 for inquiries).