A Brooklyn Barista Is Brewing Up Beautiful Works Of Caffeinated Art

by Roxy Garrity
Roxy is a reporter and writer for LittleThings. Born in North Carolina, she graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Florida, and now lives in Manhattan. She's drawn to uplifting stories that inspire her audience, and she has interviewed a range of compelling public figures, such as President Obama and Taylor Swift. She loves live music, yoga, art, traveling, all animals, and meeting new people. Send her your story ideas or just say hi!

Despite not being a household name, there’s a good chance that you’ve already seen photos of Matthew Keyes’ work (or something like it) in your Facebook feed.

That’s because Keyes, a barista, serves up those artfully poured lattes that no one can seem to get enough of these days. You know the ones, with giant mugs of coffee and steamed milk, layered just so to create images of things like hearts and leaves in their frothy tops.

And while Keyes knows the artistry of these beverages may be short-lived (it literally only survives as long as you can hold off on taking your first sip), it’s the greater impact that he and his fellow baristas are more concerned with.

“I love seeing people especially when they’re not used to getting coffee from us and they see something beautiful in a cup,” said Keyes. “It tastes great, it looks great, and hopefully it makes them feel great.”

Keyes, the owner of Key&Cup (located at 331 Henry St. in Brooklyn, NY), got his start at latte art while working as a barista before opening a shop of his own in his childhood neighborhood. “I’m very proud to own something walking distance from where I grew up,” he explained to LittleThings.

Despite its late start compared to other food art forms — latte art originated in Seattle in the late 1980s — the artistic drinks have become more and more popular each year.


Jessica Rotkiewicz / LittleThings

To make latte art, you’ll first need an espresso machine. Then, you steam milk and pour it into a shot or two of espresso. 

Jessica Rotkiewicz / LittleThings

If you do it in a certain way, you can create beautiful designs with the micro-foam of the milk. Keyes believes whole milk works best, because when you steam it, it has a thicker consistency because of the fat content.

Roxy Haynes / LittleThings

For non-dairy drinkers, Keyes suggests asking for almond milk over soy. “We use all organic products completely from our milk to our food,” he explained, adding that while those ingredients may come with extra costs, it’s worth it to elevate the “taste and character of your company.” 

Roxy Haynes / LittleThings

If, like Keyes, you think, “Latte art is like a smile in a cup,” then drop by Key&Cup for a drink, and please SHARE his beautiful works of art with your friends and family!

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