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Seoul barista transforms coffee into beautiful works of art

September 25, 2017

Published on Sep 25, 2017


Text by Karla Cripps and Taehoon Lee. Video by David Hawley, edited by Diana Diroy, CNN.


Think latte art's a tired trend?

You haven't seen the coffees created by South Korean barista Lee Gang-bin, co-owner of Café C.THROUGH in Seoul.

Using colored icing -- a technique he calls "cream art" -- Lee transforms regular cups of coffee into incredible works of art.

"Coffee is a fairytale to me," he tells CNN. "It helps me express exactly what I want and brings my dreams to life. People who specialize in latte art usually only use two colors: black and white. But I wanted to break that color limit."

His wild creations have earned him nearly 200,000 Instagram followers.

Though his renditions of major artworks are the most popular -- including Van Gogh's "The Starry Night," Edvard Munch's "The Scream" and Leonardo DiVinci's "Mona Lisa" -- he does custom work for customers as well.

The Starry Night

Requests include everything from storybook characters, such as the Little Prince, to a Vogue Korea magazine cover. But no matter the design, Lee says it's important that his works of art can actually be consumed.

"It is my rule to not make coffee that people cannot drink," he says. "I only make cream art on cold coffee. If I make it on hot coffee, the taste changes as it cools off, and I don't want the taste of the coffee to change."

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