Latte Art is hot! A few years ago you were still served a thick dot of frothed milk on your cappuccino, but nowadays that is really not done. Times have changed...
Even the avid home barista now knows how to make a latte art rosetta or swan.
I sometimes even hear from people that if they order a cappuccino or flat white and it doesn't have a nice figure, the coffee also tastes less good.
Dress to impress shall we say. But what exactly is latte art, how do you make it and what are the techniques you need to conjure up a rosetta or swan in your cappuccino at home?
At the end of this article I will tell you how to make latte art yourself.
What is latte art
What do you need for latte art
To train your latte art skills at home, you need a number of tools that make it easier for you.
For example, you need the following for latte art:
- An espresso machine for making your perfect espresso
- A milk jug* for making microfoam
- And a lot of patience ;-)
What milk to use for latte art
In principle, you can froth any type of milk. But whole milk is really the best choice.
The high fat content gives you a creamy texture without too many air bubbles that give that perfect mouthfeel.
Whole milk is the way to go to draw your first rosetta in your coffee.
Latte art techniques
When you talk about latte art, there are two techniques that are known. The first is the 'free pour' latte art. This is what you get when you order a flat white or a cappuccino in a coffee bar.
The barista pours the milk into the espresso freehand and mixes it with a nice figure.
In addition to the 'free pour' technique, you also have other techniques with which you use special tools to create certain figures on your coffee.
You come across this a lot on Instagram, such as the video below from Latteartcity, but in practice you will not often encounter it.
View this post on Instagram
Latte art figures
Latte art comes in different shapes and sizes and there are countless figures that you can expect in your coffee.
Below is a list of the most famous latte art figures:
- The heart
- The rosette
- The Swan
- The tulip
How to make latte art
A good cappuccino has a wonderfully smooth texture of just the right combination of coffee and milk. Nowadays I am a trained (SCA) barista and I often get asked if I can make beautiful figures. i
I can only say that I am fully practicing with this and practice makes perfect! Practice, practice and more practice - that's really the only way!
First of all, I would like to mention that the quality of your latte art, your figures , has nothing to do with the quality of your cappuccino.
The assumption that a barista equals beautiful figures is actually an insult to a good barista, who takes many aspects into account to serve you the most delicious cappuccino.
On the other hand, beautiful latte art is really the icing on the cake and can be a nice addition to your served drink!
You certainly can't learn latte art from a book or from a blog like this. But with the right tips I can at least help you a long way. So latte art for dummies!
1 The basics; the perfect espresso
Make sure you can make a good (read: perfect) espresso. Think of the right recipe depending on your bean, fresh coffee beans , water temperature and quality, the correct grinding degree, etc.
Make sure you can serve a beautiful espresso with a nice dark crema layer in a cup with enough (but not too much) space for your frothed milk.
Read here how to make the perfect espresso with a semi-automatic machine . This makes it a lot easier to mix the frothed milk with the espresso for the perfect latte art.
2 Got Milk?!
It sounds logical, but then you really have to pay attention to it. A very large part of your cappuccino consists of milk, so the quality of your milk matters. A few points:
- With different coffee beans, different types of milk can come into their own better, experiment with this.
- Make sure your milk is always fresh and chilled. Apart from the hygiene aspect, cold milk also foams a lot more easily than warm milk. You could also pre-cool your milk jug in the fridge yourself.
- 0% milk froths very well but does not pour smoothly and has little taste. Our advice is to work with whole milk.
- The choice between fresh milk or long-life milk is yours. Long-life milk is usually a bit sweeter, but fresh coffee may also include real fresh milk!
3 Foam up
After you have poured your fresh cold milk into your milk jug (depending on the size of your jug: usually just below the beginning of the spout) you first put the holes of your steam pipe tip against the milk (so not yet too deep) and as soon as the milk starts to grow , the tip will sink a little lower below the surface...
Make sure the steam wand is fully on for best results!
Make sure you don't heat your milk too hot. Around 65-70 degrees is really maximum. Otherwise you will burn the milk...
If you're wondering if you should stick a thermometer in to know when the milk is hot enough, the answer is no.
The simplest guideline is when the jug gets really hot to hold - then it's about the desired temperature and turn off the steam wand.
4 Beat and roll
If all goes well, your milk has now grown considerably. It may have some large bubbles in it. By hitting the bottom of your jug against the worktop once, you can knock these bubbles away in one go.
Now it's time to waltz. Carefully make circular movements with your jug of milk, so that the microfoam and the warm milk mix well.
If you did it right, you will now have a really silky and shiny milk mass.
5 Latte art pouring technique
After you have rolled well, it is important to start pouring as soon as possible.
On the one hand because you do not want the milk to cool down even more than necessary and on the other hand to ensure that the milk foam does not separate from the warm milk.
A few tips for your pouring technique:
- Don't be too careful. Start high and then pour in a smooth motion. With latte art you try to get out from under your brown crema layer with your milk.
- Slow down a bit and get a little closer when your cup is about 2/3 full, until you see white foam appearing on top of your crema layer.
- Now you can tilt your jug a bit more to create the right shapes with your white foam. Ta-daa! Your very first latte art!
NB; you really don't learn this all at once. Keep practicing and don't give up! Or watch the video below again :-)
Read also: Which types of coffee are there?