We all love lattes. With their silky texture and creamy flavour, it is of little wonder why lattes are considered one of the most popular coffee drinks in the world.
Another reason why lattes are so popular is latte art.
Baristas love to make unique patterns on top of the drink using steamed milk to create aesthetic designs. This is called latte art, and you don’t have to be a trained barista to make them. Just follow the instructions below and you’ll be wowing your friends in no time!
What Is Latte Art?
Just like we mentioned before, latte art is the patterns and designs created by a barista on top of your latte for added aesthetics.
For latte art to be possible, you need to have a shot of espresso with good crema as well as freshly steamed milk. There is a fair bit of science that explains why you can only create it using steamed milk and not regular milk, but you don’t really need to understand it in detail.
Just know that the microfoam present in steamed milk is the one that actually forms the art, not the milk itself.
How To Create Latte Art
Now for the fun part: how exactly do you make latte art?
There are actually 3 phases involved:
- Steaming the milk perfectly to create an adequate amount of microfoam
- Pulling an espresso shot with a thick crema
- Pouring the milk and creating the latter art
Steaming The Milk
- Pour a cup of cold milk into your steam pitcher (cold milk helps prevent scalding)
- Insert your steam wand into the pitcher at an angle. Make sure the wand is just underneath the surface of the milk.
- Turn on the steamer and slowly push it deeper into the milk. A whirlpool should f=be formed, and the hissing sound should get smaller as you go.
- Insert a thermometer into the pitcher. Once the milk reaches 65 – 68 ℃, shut off the steam.
- Gently swirl the pitcher to create a more velvety texture. If you see big bubbles, pound the pitcher on the counter until they pop. Bubbles (microfoam) should be small.
Pulling The Espresso Shot
- Immediately after steaming, ground fresh coffee beans using a grinder.
- Insert and tamp your ground coffee into the portafilter
- Put the portafilter in place before pulling your shot. Remember: the ideal espresso is pulled within 21 – 24 seconds.
- Pour your espresso into a cup or mug. Immediately continue to the next phase and pour your steamed milk; do not let the espresso sit for more than 10 seconds.
Pour In Steamed Milk And Create Your Latte Art
Making the perfect latte art requires you to know the perfect angle, position, flow rate, and height when pouring. Here are a few tips:
- Start by pouring the milk from a decent height, before then lowering your pitcher closer to the crema to create the foam for making latte art.
- Pour at a steady speed, if it’s too fast the crema will break and if it’s too slow excess microfoam will form.
- Hold the cup at an angle for better control.
Common Mistakes Made By Beginners
- Keeping the pitcher too close to the surface – this will cause the milk to skim your espresso, resulting in no microfoam forming
- Lifting the pitcher higher as you pour instead of lowering it – your milk will end up diving into the crema at a rapid flow rate and creates no foam.
- Pouring the steamed milk too slowly – slow pouring will cause less aerated milk to flow first while the more aerated milk to stay in the pitcher, resulting in blurry microfoam which is not ideal for latte arts.