That pretty foam heart in your latte may be the reason you feel OK with paying five dollars for it. According to a new study published this month in the Journal of Sensory Studies, humans perceive the value of a coffee drink to be higher if it features latte art.
Researchers at Federation University in Australia showed participants two images of a cappuccino — one with foam art and one without — to see if they felt one was "better prepared" than the other. The majority of the participants said that they felt the one with art was better prepared and probably also cost more.
When participants were asked to sip coffees with and without latte art, they found no difference in the intensity of the taste, but once again they noted that they would be willing to pay more for the cup with latte art. So how much more can a coffee shop charge for a drink with latte art? The study suggests "people are willing to pay between 11 to 13 percent more for coffee with latte art than for those without it."
Perhaps this is why Starbucks started encouraging its baristas to master latte art. Last year, a leaked internal memo from the company included step-by-step instructions on how to create perfect milky swirls. If customers are willing to pay a few cents more for a latte with leaf art, how much more would they shell out for coffee decked out with foam portraits of celebrities?Eater Video: Practicing latte art