art:. John Hamanchosi, Betola Espresso Bar, Manhattan, NY

If the crema is going bad, its intentional.

And, oh, another thing that is for sure, this barista, a handler of many trades including repurposing espresso is a master beyond the steam wand. Repeat with me:  dab, crema, stroke.

This is John Hamanchosi, an artist taking a bow for his decaying ristretto.

Lets preface this conversation with this, Hamanchosi doesn’t believe in what he calls the illuminati of the coffee world: coffee waves, coffee snobbery, coffee gimmicks, or even different coffee brew methods.  Wait a minute!  Jaded? Perhaps. An enthusiast? Yes, in his own enthusiastic way.

smdlr: Its not every day that one can walk into a coffee shop and one of its owners, is also the originator of the art on its wall. How did you come to feature yourself?

Jon Hamanchosi: Honestly, I didn’t like the art I was seeing, so I whipped up this collection.

s: I first saw the biggest piece from an Instagram feed. Then, coming here and seeing it in person, wow, the picture translated so well.

jh: Instagram has amazing filters.

s: True, but the richness has to already exist.  What techniques comprise the intensity that resulted in these colors?

jh: I used watercolor, charcoal, coffee and crema on stretched canvas.

s: Crema? Specifically?

jh: Yea. You can do a lot with crema.

s: Now, that is cool – decaying crema with an artistic use. Can you share what the scene is of the biggest picture?

jh: It’s from the J train going towards Williamsburg, the Marcy avenue stop in Brooklyn. It’s a view of the projects and a picture I always see when I’m taking the train back home.  Conceptually, it’s a sticky picture, there’s a stark difference between what is there and what is on the other side of the bridge. Its like project versus posh.

s: And, the guy at the top of the other set on the opposite wall, so much emotion in that face and shoulder, who is he?

jh: It’s a guy from around here on Sixth Street, a meth head. I drew him from the pose he’s usually in every time I saw him; he was always looking back, with a blanket in one hand and shuffling along the street. It’s an homage to him.  And, the bottom is a picture of a phantom. It doesn’t have a name.

s: Intriguing. As an owner, I assume you see a lot of life, coming in and out of the coffee shop space. How do you feel art plays a role within that movement.

jh: I don’t think a café should or shouldn’t have it.  But, art does help a lot with the atmosphere.  For me, I wanted to implement coffee as a medium; I thought it was sensible.

You can visit his art currently at Betola Espresso Bar.

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