When Big Bean barista Valerie Cooper makes a latte for one of her customers, they don’t just get some caffeine—they get a work of art.
Cooper, who has worked at The Big Bean in Severna Park for 11 years, is the coffee shop’s resident latte artist.
“I try to give everybody that special treat,” Cooper said. “A lot of coffee is presentation.”
About eight years ago, Cooper and some of her coworkers attended Coffee Fest. That’s where she first really discovered latte art, and decided it was something she wanted to learn how to do.
Cooper has spent the last eight years perfecting her craft. She can now do a few freehand designs including a Rosetta and a heart. She said at Christmas time she experimented with a Christmas tree thanks to some help from a stencil. But for the most part she sticks to freehand.
You don’t have to be artistic to master latte art either, Cooper said. In fact, she said she isn’t very artistically talented herself; she just loves a good cup of coffee.
“This is the most art I do in my whole life,” she said. “It’s more that I love coffee and like to do something for our guests.”
Cooper has taught a few other people about the inner-workings of latte art. She has worked with a few other baristas at The Big Bean, and even taught her own son—whom she says has gotten better at it than she is.
“I just like the challenge of making something that looks really nice,” Cooper said.
Copper’s latte art is very nice—so much so that it’s almost too pretty to drink!