New Brunswick

Fredericton's Barista Brian raises money for out-of-the-cold shelter

Fredericton's Barista Brian used his latte art Sunday to raise money for the out-of-the-cold shelter.

'I just feel so grateful that I can use the platform and voice I have to build community here'

Brian Leonard making latte art in Fredericton. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Brian Leonard, also known as Barista Brian, was back home in Fredericton, N.B., this weekend.

He was using his latte art talent to raise money for the emergency out-of-the-cold shelter in the city.

Leonard, now living in Toronto, travels the world making latte art for celebrities, working high-profile gigs at the Oscars and the Emmys.

"Meryl Streep called me a genius, so like, I don't know how it will ever get better than that — truly," Leonard said Sunday in Fredericton. 

Leonard uses food colouring to paint a picture on steamed milk. The image lasts a few minutes, but he said it's just as much about the experience as the final product.

Brian Leonard, also known as Barista Brian, was in Fredericton making latte art to raise money for the out-of-the-cold shelter. (Gary Moore/CBC)

"It's like we get to have a latte together," Leonard said, who sits and chats with the person receiving his work.

Leonard made latte art for people in his hometown Sunday at a downtown coffee shop.

People paid by donation to have Leonard paint for them. Some people asked him to paint pictures of pets and others, like Nicole Wilby, had her face sketched.

"Artists tend to have different mediums, and it's super fun that his medium is something you get to enjoy after as well," Wilby said. 

She was impressed with Leonard's ability to capture her character in the latte.

"Green eyes, headband, flushed cheeks," Wilby said looking at her latte before she started to sip on the hot drink.

Nicole Wilby shows the latte art made by Brian Leonard. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Leonard said he works about five or six celebrity events each year and he's expecting to do just as many, or more, this year. 

But doing Sunday's fundraiser was important for him.

"Coming back to Fredericton as an adult, you see the people who need help on the street are not strangers but they're people I grew up with sometimes," Leonard said.

"I just feel so grateful that I can use the platform and voice I have to build community here and raise awareness around the homeless population here."

Later this week, Leonard's headed to Utah for his fourth consecutive Sundance Film Festival, which he said is like going back to summer camp. 

"You'll see a lot of the same celebrity faces, but also all the other people in the room — the publicists, the hairstylists, the makeup artists, so it's really nice to come together a few times a year and get to see each other and catch up."

About the Author

Gary Moore

CBC News

Gary Moore is a video journalist based in Fredericton.