When most people drink thick, fluffy milk foam on a cup of coffee, they end up with a #coffeemoustache. Janette Mostert ends up with a brand new canvas to create coffee art masterpieces.
Janette Mostert is not your average artist. She draws intricate illustrations on coffee using cocoa and food coloring and you can find her pieces on Instagram @instacoffeeart. She first got the idea to use coffee as her medium while traveling through the Zimbabwean mountains in Malawi, enjoying the misty view with a steaming tin mug of coffee in hand.
“It tasted like nectar! The mug was topped with a thick foam of milk and I remember thinking I’d like to draw on it,”
says Jan. Her coffee journey began as a home brewer, experimenting with espresso machines, percolators, and pod machines for her daily drink. For Jan, coffee can really set the tone for the day ahead and her favorite part is taking that very first sip.
As a writer and nurse, Jan’s days can turn into an adventure anytime and in one case, a cup of coffee ended up being the hero of the story. “I’d been without anything to eat or drink for almost 38 hours in Saudi Arabia. I was starting a new job as a nursing tutor in a military hospital and we are all stuck in the airport waiting room in Jeddah. I was feeling tired, anxious, and very thirsty but I hadn’t had time to exchange my money into Saudi riyals. A woman dressed in black from head to toe suddenly presented me with a takeaway coffee that had no sugar but a head of thick, frothy milk and I felt like I’d been given coffee from heaven. It was rich in flavor, creamy, and sublime – one of the best!,” says Jan.
She’s based in Cape Town, South Africa now and draws from the amazing scenery and huge coffee culture to inspire her coffee art. She often experiments with mixtures of cocoa powder, water, and blue food coloring to create different shades of chocolate color and adds details to her drawings with anything from gold powder to dried flowers. She even adds glints in the eyes by using icing sugar or small glitter balls to give her art that extra something.
Her process is this: “I make coffee, stare at the foam, and draw what I ‘see’,” she says. Many of her ideas come from current events or holidays, and she gets extra satisfaction when she completes a request for peoples’ pets or portraits of their significant others.
One of the biggest challenges for her art is getting the right consistency of milk foam, especially because she takes her cappuccinos with almond milk.
“The best is a thick, dense, and creamy foam that allows me to draw lines and shades without having them disappear into the foam. Finding the right almond milk to foam was a huge challenge until I discovered MILKLAB from Australia,” she says.
Jan’s artwork ranges from incredibly realistic portraits to whimsical cartoons, making coffee fun and creative for her followers. “When I started drawing on my coffee, there were very few doing this form of art other than barista art. My work is different in that I draw on foam, not with milk, as baristas do. I happen to think they are very skilled to work art into coffee using milk. I just draw whatever I want on the foam, which is a less difficult technique in my opinion,” says Jan.
But to be able to create detailed drawings on such a volatile and ephemeral canvas like milk foam takes amazing skill and patience. Make sure you also check out her art page @instaartworx to see what she can do when she’s not working with milk and coffee!