The Korean Man Making the Most Dazzling Lattes in the World

July  7, 2017

I’m not one to fall easily for “latte art,” though I don’t shame anyone who does. It’s just not my style; I order my coffee to ingest rather than photograph it. Yet I’m finding it hard to resist the skill and command of Lee Kang-Bin, a 26-year-old barista who owns Cafe C. Through in Seoul. He’s the subject of a recent Reuters profile that details how Lee began creating what he now calls “creamart,” foamy cups of cold coffee with wicked, intricate detail.

Lee, with the aid of pocket-sized spoons and brushes, replicates such works as Munch’s the Scream and Van Gogh’s The Starry Night with startling verisimilitude. He achieves this through the use of thick cream, blotted with splashes of food coloring. The process of completing a cup, he claims, takes him roughly 15 minutes. His cups of coffee retail for 10,000 won, or just under $9.

If you’re heading to Seoul soon, I’d stop by his café: Lee honors patrons' requests, from Disney characters to VOGUE covers. (His Instagram account, where he’s collected upwards of 170,000 followers, essentially functions as his portfolio, where his versatility is on full display.) At the very least, extract some inspiration from his Instagram feed today. Imagine having an arm as steady as his—let alone the rigorous self-discipline to execute these tiny, caffeinated masterworks.

See more of Lee Kang-Bin's creamart here.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.