A groundbreaking local coffee shop receives praise for its innovative beverage choices.
“The nutty notes of oat milk, the thick decadence of goat’s milk and a slight hint of salt make the breast milk latte at LAFA Coffee Roaster a must-buy,” says one Yelp reviewer.
LAFA, which opened in Tulsa in 2018, has been heralded as “groundbreaking,” “astonishing” and “the paragon of the burgeoning fourth-wave coffee movement.”
Jonathan Arthur Wright, coffee critic and 2017-2018 Barista Champion of the Universe , founded LAFA with the basic idea that “locality, specificity and artistry” are the “key ingredients to crafting the postmodern product.” The Tulsa native named the coffee shop “LAFA” from the word “earth” in Oromo, which is also the name of his favorite cultivation region. Wrightr explicitly expressed his love for nature, especially The Gathering Place, which was his inspiration for choosing “earth.”
The roastery itself has become an attraction in Tulsa, bringing coffee pilgrims from across the globe to taste the award-winning roasts and espresso of Wright. LAFA has provided zany combinations ever since its conception, but none can match the controversial breast milk latte.
I received a warm introduction from Wright, who reserved the space after hours for a private cupping, which would usually cost me upward of $500 with the Champion of the Universe.
As he was frothing the breast milk, he commentated on how he viewed modern coffee “You see, it is absolutely pivotal that we propel forward the art as a craft that transcends simple beverage. Coffee has over eight hundred flavor compounds that far surpass any rivaling drink. We can only add and diversify as we find new, evolutionary ways to serve it.”
He continued, “Coffee is the second-most consumed commodity in the world. My coffee is my mission. To responsibly source my coffee is to aid the community at large.”
Wright’s passion is undeniable, as I spent two hours jotting down notes regarding “tannins,” the necessity of “pre-infusions” and his discovery that the prime water temperature for a Chemex pour-over is in fact 201 degrees Fahrenheit rather than the industry standard 205 degrees.
When we finally spoke about the infamous breast milk latte, he said, “To be honest, I was tired of having to juggle all of these milk options that lack in different ways, and I am in no way going to serve animal’s milk. I looked over at my pregnant partner and said, “I got it!’”
Following his standard of “locality, specificity and artistry,” Wright decided that the only way he could rightfully serve a beverage such as this was to harvest the product himself to ensure the excellence of the good.
Local breast rights organizations have been in an uproar over the product, citing every violation they can find and legislating to ban breast milk lattes. Protestors lined the street outside of LAFA, but it did not curb the steady current of patrons who filed in and out with paper cups.
One young man I stopped declared, “Honestly, I’ve never had anything like it. It’s just so unique. Simply astonishing.”
A middle-aged woman said, “I mean, it’s a gimmick, a damn good one. He’s just in there milking away… everyone loves it.”
Entering the establishment, I was greeted by a large podium with a glass box in which Wright stood, hands cupping the breasts of a pregnant woman.
The general consensus among patrons was that the breast milk latte is avante-garde, bringing in a new wave of production that will keep the coffee industry thriving for years.