By Serena Solomon
GREENWICH VILLAGE — Artists have another tool to add to their arsenal of paintbrushes, pencils, and ink — superheated milk foam.
Joe the Art of Coffee is hosting classes to teach would-be foam artists to make masterpieces out of their morning cup of coffee, as well as learn proper espresso making techniques and milk steaming.
"When the coffee price went up people started paying more attention to what they where drinking," said "Charrow," 29, a coffee educator at Joe. "People are realizing how good things can be."
Group classes are held regularly throughout the week. Private classes are also an option.
Jade Ferrari, 39, recently took a private class on the art of foam at Joe's East 13th Street location near Fifth Avenue.
The ex-Wall Street trader developed an interest when he worked on coffee contracts at the futures exchange, and "had to learn where all the good coffee comes from," he said.
Now Ferrari is planning to open a chowder house in New Jersey that serves top-of-the-line coffee during the day.
For Ferrari and every student the class experience is hands-on.
"What we are aiming for is micro-foam," said Charrow, as she uses the steam pipe to create a milky whirlpool inside a steel jug. She handed the milk canister to Ferrari to try his hand at pouring the milk into a cup with an espresso shot waiting inside.
Charrow, a master of seven years, demonstrated how to whip up the three basics of foam art — the heart, the tulip and the rosetta. For her, foam art is not just an aesthetic, it's an indication of a well-made cup.
"When you create latte art, you know you are pouring a beverage that's going to be balanced," she told Ferrari.
"When you are pouring, it's going to wrap around the coffee," Chorrow said, as Ferrari gently combined the steamed milk with the coffee.
Ferrari's creation turned out in the form of a distorted heart shape — not bad for a first try.
While drip coffee has always been a source of pride for the city, espresso coffee has taken longer to master, Chorrow said.
Cafes like Joe, that treat espresso coffee as a trade, have steadily entered New York's coffee market over the last three years, according to Charrow.
It now has branches in Chelsea, the Upper West Side and in Grand Central Station, as well as in Greenwich Village.
"At Joe we train our baristas for three months," she said. An entire month is spent on foaming milk.
As for the classes, they attract a host of different people including tourists and locals who want to have fun or just make good coffee at home.
"We don't want it to be a mystery, we want coffee to be transparent," Charrow said.