The haunting swirls and stars of Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night can take Lee Kang-bin up to three hours to create—not on a canvas but in a cup of a coffee. Kang-bin is co-owner and a barista at the C. Through Café in Seoul, South Korea, specializing in what he calls “CreamArt.”
Instead of simply drawing shapes in foam, Kang-bin uses a palette of food colorings and an etching pen to create faithful renditions of works like Edvard Munch’s The Scream and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
“Nowadays, food is recognized as an art,” he says. “I want beverages to also be recognized as art.”
Each month, Kang-bin creates three different works, by reservation only. Prices vary: A cartoony bear costs $6-plus a cup, while his Starry Night goes for the equivalent of about $26—expensive for a cup of coffee, but cheap for a work of art.
As for the obvious question, Kang-bin has a ready response: “Customers always ask, ‘How did you make this?!’” he says. “But everyone ends up drinking it.”