A regular fix of the perfect cup of coffee is what most coffee lovers look forward to in the morning, afternoon or evening. And, if you like lattes, you can attest to how expensive it can be to buy one every time you feel the urge; hence, the need to learn how to make latte art at home. This way, you can learn a new handy skill and also get to enjoy your fix whenever you feel the need.
According to seasoned baristas, all you need to make the perfect latte, decorated with some interesting patterns, is a fresh shot of espresso with crema and steamed milk that is properly textured.
For a detailed breakdown of how to make latte art, continue reading below.
What Is Latte Art?
In a nutshell, a latte can be described as an espresso mixed with steamed milk that creates a silky and foamy surface. With that in mind, patterns or pictures created by pouring this steamed milk on the surface of the espresso are referred to as latte art.
To make latte art you will need, an espresso machine, your preferred milk, a commercial-grade milk steaming wand, a rounded cup, a frothing pitcher and most importantly, a detailed guide on how to make latte art.
Steps To Make Latte Art
Here’s a breakdown of the main steps to follow when making latte art.
Start With The Milk
The first step towards making beautiful latte art involves preparing the milk. To start your workflow on the right footing, start by pouring cold milk into a pitcher. Using cold milk, preferably from the fridge, helps reduce the chances of scalding when steaming it. Take the time to prepare perfectly steamed milk – which should not have big bubbles but rather look velvety like wet paint.
It is essential that you balance the steaming process. For the sweetest-tasting milk, avoid overheating – consider using a thermometer to prevent scalding. You should also try to avoid adding too much air into the milk as this may result in the formation of globs of foam at the top and thin hot milk at the bottom.
To give the milk a smooth velvety texture after steaming, leave it to settle for a few seconds, before vigorously swirling it. You can also tap the pitcher against the counter several times if you notice any large bubbles; before you continue swirling it for another half a minute.
Remember to clean the steam wand using a wet cloth after you have turned off the steam, and let out a little steam to clean the tip afterwards.
Preparing The Espresso
According to most seasoned baristas, you should steam your milk first before pulling the espresso. It is also recommended that you stir the espresso first, in order to blend all of the different elements – such as air bubbles and crema – together; thus, giving yourself a blank canvas to work with before pouring in the steamed milk.
Similarly, make sure that you have mixed the espresso and milk evenly before you start pouring any latte art designs.
Making Latte Art
When pouring latte art, you should always focus on directing the milk to the centre of the espresso. Otherwise, the milk might shoot around the edges or even break the crema, if you start too close to the sides.
To make sure that the milk in the jug goes below the espresso surface before you start drawing, start pouring with the milk pitcher positioned farther away from the espresso cup, bringing it closer as the cup gets almost half full.
Increase the surface area by tilting your cup, slowly tilting it to be vertical as you continue pouring.
When the cup is half full, start pouring to the back of the cup, and move the pitcher from side to side by gently moving your wrist.
You can use this motion to create a variety of latte art designs, including a flower, heart or leaf pattern. You can watch the video for some examples of perfectly executed latte art designs.
Pro Tips For Latte Art
- Always start with the milk before pulling an espresso shot
- Make sure that the steamed milk looks like wet paint
- Always start with a blank canvas to pour the milk onto for the best outcome
- Focus on pouring into the centre of the espresso
- Do not under or overfill your pitcher with milk, try to use the right amount of milk every time
- Think about what you want to pour before you start – pouring milk tends to be a quick process
- The angle between the cup and the pitcher should be high
- Remember to start high and slow, before going low and fast
- Keep the milk closer to the surface, instead of sinking it too deep below the surface of the espresso
- Keep your wiggling or shaking slow
- Do not trail or slug your design, finish strong
As you can see, it is possible for anyone to make latte art, with a bit of patience and a lot of practice. To make the perfect latter art, you simply need to have perfectly steamed and foamed milk, a shot of espresso and the above guide.
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