Fort Wayne, Ind. (WANE) – AJ Yoder needed about six months to make foamed milk images that were in any way recognizable.
But that was four years ago.
“Now it’s just second nature,” he says. “It’s all hand-eye coordination and muscle memory.”
The 24-year-old barista at Fortezza Coffee is a two-time winner of the ModBar Latte Art Throwdown, which pits 32 regional baristas from Indiana and surrounding states in a bracketed, head to head tournament.
Yoder says he’s not artistic.
“This is really the only thing.”
He’s waiting to start his graduate work in counseling, where he hopes to make a career. However, working with customers who need their morning pick-me-up lets him put those counseling skills to work.
“Not like ‘counseling’ counseling, but you get to talk to customers,” he says.
“A lot of times people share their problems and people will share what’s going on, so I get to meet a lot of people, hear their stories, and try to brighten their day if I can.”
Since latte art isn’t meant to last long, Yoder says he and the other baristas at Fortezza will take a quick picture and post it to the store’s Instagram.
He works most mornings at the coffee shop, 819 S. Calhoun St., which means most people aren’t fully awake and functioning.
“I always say I don’t judge you before your coffee so if you’re a little grouchy, that’s okay with me.”