Mushroom? Or blue algae? What your latte says about you

Forget espresso with hot milk – there is a whole world of extreme lattes out there. So are you the Albert Camus or the Jackson Pollock of cafe culture?

A normal latte with just, like, espresso and milk and nothing daft added for novelty effect

A normal latte with just, like, espresso and milk and nothing daft added for novelty effect

 

Mushroom latte. That’s where civilisation is at in 2017. Where previous generations were blessed with space flight, antibiotics or a deeper understanding of Copernican heliocentrism, this one gets fungal-flavoured milk.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. You will find food-related content in all of our sections, plus reader events, competitions and lots of exclusive content at irishtimes.com/food
November is Food Month in The Irish Times. You will find food-related content in all of our sections, plus reader events, competitions and lots of exclusive content at irishtimes.com/food

Indeed, the mushroom latte is the latest (latte-est?) in a long line of recent hot-drink sensations – the matcha latte, the blue algae latte, the turmeric latte – and somehow manages to surpass them all by sounding not just unfathomably weird but also genuinely unpleasant. Well done, mushroom latte!

However, delve deeper into the world of Extreme Lattes and you’ll discover that mushroom ones are nothing special. There are beetroot lattes, carrot cake lattes and lavender lattes out there. There are sake lattes and egg lattes. There is even a glitter latte and a pearl latte, proving that when you have run out of every known foodstuff – pulled pork latte, anyone? – you can simply move into the world of the inedible. But what do such drinks tell us about the person who buys them?

Charcoal latte
Torment and gloom are entwined at the very basement of your soul, cursed to perform the dark dance of misery for all eternity. So what better way to express this than through the medium of steamed milk, preferably with a pretty monochrome flower drizzled on the top? You are the Albert Camus of coffee culture, your latte a long black trench coat to protect you from the plague rains above. The world is a bleak, harrowing place right now, but it can sometimes feel as if only you really understand the pain. Largely because you’ve just splurged the best part of a fiver on a lukewarm drink containing coal.

Blue algae latte
Sure, some people might think that this coffee-free, milk-free drink says nothing about you other than: “I will add literally anything to hot liquid if it turns it a pretty colour so that I can post it on Insta.” But that would be to dismiss the multifaceted personality traits inherent in all who imbibe this mix of ginger, lemon, coconut milk, agave and – mmm, is that my saliva glands working overtime? – blue algae powder. Besides, if all you cared about was doing decent numbers on the socials you’d be painting your entire body gold and jumping off Boscombe pier. Oh wait, you’ve done that too …

Matcha latte
You used to be somebody, you and your bright green drink infused with ground green tea. You were a talking point. But you got complacent, didn’t you? You thought being ahead of the curve was an achievement in itself, rather than the first step towards a lifetime of edge-surfing anxiety. And now look what’s happened – you’re Rick Wakeman, wondering why tickets aren’t shifting for your King Arthur On Ice musical.

Matcha latte: You used to be somebody, you and your bright green drink infused with ground green tea.
Matcha latte: You used to be somebody, you and your bright green drink infused with ground green tea.

Mushroom latte
Why hazard a guess about what kind of person buys a mushroom latte when Charisse Baker, the founder of East London Juice Co, which serves them, already has the answer. Her company makes funghified coffee using locally foraged ’shrooms and homemade organic Spanish almond “mylk”, and claims the drink leaves you “feeling a little more ready to deal with city life”. Mushroom latte will help you get one over the other Henrys on the stock exchange, lads! And if a hard-bitten latte reporter like me is taking that as stone-cold fact, untainted by PR waffle, then you should too: mushroom latte will definitely make you rich. And only a little bit sick.

Rainbow latte
Cheer up, charcoal latte fans, and take a multicoloured leaf out of this drinker’s book! Because where you see an overpriced base of steamed milk, they see a canvas. Where you see a list of increasingly implausible dyes and superfood powders that sound as if you should need some kind of prescription to order them, they see the very paints that Jackson Pollock himself once hurled. And if spirulina dust – AKA a tasty biomass of cyanobacteria – tastes like Satan’s very own nail clippings, then that’s just the sacrifice a true artist must make these days.

Roasted garlic latte
When news reached you last month that a 74-year-old Japanese man had invented a coffee-flavoured drink without actually using coffee beans (Yokitomo Shimotai apparently stumbled on the invention after burning garlic), you had already trademarked Garlatte and set up your pop-up stall (£6 to join the queue). The zeitgeist will only ever be something you’ve noticed in your rearview mirror. And without people like you, we’d all still be drinking Nescafé.

A normal latte with just, like, espresso and milk and nothing daft added for novelty effect
You’re … well, what are you exactly? Who even are you? How do we ask you that question when you’re literally invisible?

– Guardian Service

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