Beginners Guide: How to Make Beautiful Latte Art
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Many coffee lovers agree that making good espresso is an art in itself, but it still doesn’t take away from the beauty of coffee latte art. Latte art refers to the patterns made in the foam topping espresso drinks. Have you ever wondered how they were made? In this guide, we’ll teach you how to make beautiful latte art in your own kitchen.
Before we go into different latte art designs, let’s discuss some basics first. First, to create latte art designs, you’ll need the following:
- A jug/pitcher
- A cup
- Espresso machine
- A toothpick or a latte art tool (or something that’s a bit thicker than a toothpick)
And of course, don’t forget the main ingredients: coffee, milk, and chocolate syrup.
How to Make Latte Art
Now, let’s proceed to the different steps you need to follow to create that beautiful coffee latte art.
Step 1. Make the Perfect Creamy Milk Foam
To make the perfect creamy milk foam, you need to:
- Pour cold milk.
Pour enough cold milk for one cup into your steam pitcher. There are different ways to do this. You can place the pitcher in your refrigerator or freezer for around 30 minutes before using – a cold pitcher will allow you more time to steam the milk, which will reduce the risk of scalding. This step will also make the cream stiffer and easier to handle.
To avoid scalding, you can use a liquid thermometer to help you know when to remove the milk from the steamer. Also, you should try to heat the cream to just below boiling for a specific amount of time – waiting too long can cause scalding.
- Turn on the steam.
Put the steam wand at the bottom of the pitcher. Then, turn on the steam and raise the wand slowly until it is close to the tip of the milk. As the milk continues to rise, lower the pitcher so that the steam wand stays around 1 cm away from the tip of the milk. Don’t let the milk form any big bubbles or overstretch – this is important to create smooth, velvety milk instead of the usual foam that rests atop most espresso drinks.
- Spin the milk.
Let the milk reach around 100˚F (37˚C). Then, place the steam wand deep into the milk, ideally on the side of the pitcher, such that the pitcher can spin counterclockwise. Lightly spin the milk counterclockwise while the steam wand stays near the bottom of the pitcher.
- Turn on the steam.
Maintain the motion until the milk heats to between 150˚F and 155˚F (65˚C and 68˚C). Don’t let the foamed milk reach 160˚F (71˚C). Aim for small, light bubbles known as microfoam, as opposed to big bubbles. The aim is to obtain light foam without compromising on the body.
- Shut the steam.
Shut the steam. Then, remove the wand and thermometer from the milk.
Give the milk a few seconds to settle so that it can have a more velvety texture. Then, swirl it vigorously. If you see any bubbles, pound the pitcher on the counter multiple times before you continue to swirl it for 20 to 30 seconds.
Step 2. Pulling the Espresso Shot
Start running the espresso shots as soon as you foam the milk. Each espresso shot must contain around 7 and 8 grams of ground espresso. For extra freshness, consider using a burr grinder as it allows you to control how coarse/fine the espresso grinds become. Next, pull the espresso shots. Ideally, the shot should have a little cream in it, as well as the usual coffee flavor. How do you do this? The ideal espresso shot is pulled within 21 to 24 seconds – espresso tends to be sweeter when pulled close to 24 seconds.
The amount of strength exerted when tamping down on the espresso grounds also affects the length of the extraction. So, apply just enough force so the espresso extracts evenly and slowly. If you don’t use enough tamping pressure, the espresso will extract too fast. After this, you can pour your espresso shots into a coffee mug. Don’t let the shot sit for more than 10 seconds before you add the milk.
Step 3. Pouring the Milk and Latte Art
You need to be careful of the position, flow, and height when pouring your steamed milk. Here are some tips:
- Start the pour a little high until the cup is almost half full. Then, lower the pour so it’s close to the cream to make the foam appear.
- Pour from high to low and make sure to pour at a constant speed.
- Hold the cup at an angle and pour steadily. Note that pouring too slow will cause the foam to be left behind and pouring too fast will break the crema apart.
- When the cup is almost half full, start pouring to the back of the cup. Move the pitcher from side to side using gentle wrist movements.
Latte Art Designs
Below are some simple latte art designs, with instructions, that you can make at your own home.
To create a heart pattern:
Pour the milk side to side in one area of the cup.
Continue to pour until you create a big circle of crema.
Move the jug slightly forward. Then, continue pouring on the big spot of foam until the cup is almost full.
Finish the heart pattern by pouring in a quick straight line forward.
To create a rosetta or leaf pattern:
Pour the milk as you move the jug from side to side until the foam appears on the surface. Continue this motion until a pattern appears.
While moving sideways, slowly move the jug backward as well.
When you reach the end of the cup, move the jug in a quick straight line through the pattern.
Quick side to side movements will create a rosetta with many leaves, while slow movements will result in fewer, thick leaves.
To create a flower pattern:
Pour the milk around 1 inch from the bottom.
When the cup is filled half-way, gently shake the pitcher back and forth while slowly moving backward. This will cause the flower design to move forward and fill the cup.
The design comes out best when you shake your wrist back and forth, rather than your hand.
Coffee Latte Art Bonus Tip:
You may also consider embellishing your latte art design with milk foam, powder, and stencils, though many people prefer to leave their latte art in its natural form. You may also try to embellish with chocolate to create an outline on the edge of the foam, or you can write some words. To write a word, simply dip a pointy object in the cream of your drink, then add some stained cream to draw your design.
You don’t have to be an expert barista to create beautiful latte art. Just follow the instructions above to create some simple designs, and when you’ve got a little more practice, you can try more complicated designs later on. Enjoy!
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