Do you enjoy lattes? Have you ever been to a coffee shop and been given a latte with a fancy leaf, tree, or heart displayed on top of the foam? If so, you are very much aware of what latte art is.
If you’ve ever wondered how in the world someone can make an illustration using just coffee and milk foam, you aren’t alone. The truth is, this talent isn’t just relegated to the barista at your favorite local coffee shop. In fact, you can make latte art yourself, with just a little practice and some know-how.
This guide will walk you through how to make latte art yourself.
There are some obvious things required before you can go about making your own latte art. First, you’ll need an espresso machine that has a milk frother. You’ll also need some coffee beans, 2% milk, a steaming pitcher, a milk thermometer, and a mug.
Before starting, please realize that latte art is fairly hard at first, so it will take you a few tries. Don’t get too frustrated, you’ll get it.
Making good milk foam is the key to latte art. To begin, pour enough cold milk into your steaming pitcher for one cup. Place the steam wand tip into the bottom of the pitcher, and turn the steam wand on.
Slowly raise the tip of the wand towards the surface as the milk steams, but keep the tip of the wand about 1 cm below the surface. This will create velvety-smooth foam. Once the milk gets to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, lower the tip, and press the wand against the side of the pitcher.
Slowly turn the pitcher counter-clockwise until the milk reaches 155 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the steam wand, and let the pitcher sit for about 30 seconds. This allows the foam to rise to the top and become even more smooth and velvety.
Swirl the milk in the pitcher vigorously, and tap the pitcher on the counter a few times to get rid of bubbles.
Now that your foam is ready, pull your shots of espresso. After pulling, pour the shots into the bottom of your mug.
You are now ready to attempt some latte art. To create a flower, pour the milk from the pitcher about 1 inch from the bottom. When the mug is halfway filled, shake the pitcher back and forth in a gentle manner while slowly moving it backwards from the center of the mug. This will create a flower with a round base.
Need a visual? Here’s a handy video.
To create a heart follow the same milk foaming and shot-pulling process.
This time, start with the pitcher close to the top of the mug, and pour in a small bit of milk in the center. While lifting the pitcher up, do one full revolution of a circle with the pitcher, not the mug. Keep the milk stream in the same spot, but wiggle the pitcher back and forth as you make a circle.
Once the milk is done being poured towards the top, swing the milk upwards to finish the bottom tip of the heart. A small stir stick or straw can be used to add detail or sharpen the tip.
Having trouble? This video can help.