Every time you make latte art, the result is slightly different. It’s like watching the sunset day after day. The timing and process are the same, but each one is a unique work of art in and of itself.
As a specialty-coffee barista, I’ve made latte art thousands of times. In fact, one of my passions is hosting how-to workshops around Bucharest teaching latte art skills to all levels, from novices to advanced. I’ve taught dozens of people how to make latte art.
In this article, we will talk about what latte art is, how to make latte art, and what we need in order to do it. I’ve created this to be a beginner’s level introduction, so you can practice the fundamentals before experimenting with more advanced designs.
Trust me: By the end of this tutorial, you’ll have made a creamy latte with gorgeous heart-shaped art on top.
What Is Latte Art?
Latte art is exactly what it sounds like: An artful design on top of a latte, traditionally created through a specific technique of pouring microfoam into espresso. (By the way, I made a tutorial on how to make a latte you might want to check out, too.)
Using your pouring skills alone to create a design on the surface of the latte is a challenging skill to master. This is because your milk, espresso, timing, and gear need to be right and work together correctly. But not to worry, we’re going to go into this in detail—and practice makes perfect.
The Origins of Latte Art
The origins of latte art can be traced back to Italy at the turn of the 20th century with the advent of espresso machines that came with attached steam wands.
But latte art really took off in the 1980s in Seattle.
David Schomer of Espresso Vivace started experimenting with microfoam, also known as “velvet foam” or “milk texturing”. Microfoam’s made by steaming milk and creating a dense foam that can be poured on top of the espresso.
Schomer actually credits Jack Kelly of Uptown espresso for developing microfoam, which was a significant breakthrough in latte art.
The Popularity of Latte Art
Latte art has become increasingly popular over the years, and it’s not just because of how beautiful it looks. Latte art can enhance the flavor of the coffee by creating a smooth, creamy texture that balances the bitterness of the espresso.
Latte art also adds a personal touch to every cup of coffee, making each one special. In fact, many times when home baristas come to one of my workshops to learn how to make latte art, it’s so they can surprise a loved one.
David Schomer played a significant role in popularizing latte art in the United States, and his work has inspired countless other coffee artists like me.
Today, latte art has become a staple in coffee shops worldwide, and baristas are constantly experimenting with new patterns and techniques to create beautiful and unique designs.
How to Make Latte Art – Step By Step
First, prep your espresso and foam your milk with these instructions:
- Put the milk into the pitcher.
- Grip the pitcher.
- Align the pitcher spout with the steamer.
- Submerge the steam wand.
- Use full power with the steamer.
- Aerate the milk.
- Stop the aeration.
- Complete the steaming.
Next, follow these steps to create your latte art:
- Gauge distance.
- Begin pouring.
- Focus on the middle of the cup.
- Slow your pour down.
- Design your heart.
- Marvel at the beautiful latte art you just made!
What You Need to Make Latte Art
- A pitcher
- A cup
- Espresso is the main component of making latte art. You will need around 20 to 40 ml of espresso (one or two shots).
2. You will need whole-fat milk with 3.5% fat content to make latte art. The fat will help you achieve the creamy texture needed for latte art.
3. To achieve the silky texture of milk required for latte art, you need to add air into the milk. You will need a steamer for this.
4. A pitcher helps you pour the milk more precisely and homogenize the espresso milk better. I recommend using a pitcher with a sharper spout for more accuracy.
5. The cup is also very important. I recommend using a cup with a larger opening to make it easier to create latte art.
How To Do Latte Art At Home
We will split this chapter into two parts: Milk and pouring.
First, I will talk about how to properly froth the milk, which will help you a lot in completing your first latte art.
How to Froth the Milk
We want to achieve milk with a density exactly like paint.
Step One: Put the milk into the pitcher.
Step Two: Grip the pitcher.
Place your hand on the pitcher as shown in the picture so that you can feel the temperature and have a good grip on the pitcher.
Step Three: Align the pitcher spout with the steamer.
This will help you gain control of the steamer. Inconsistent placement of the steamer can lead to a big difference between each froth.
For more consistency, use the spout of the pitcher to guide the steamer into the milk in the same place every time.
Step Four: Submerge the steam wand.
Submerge the tip of the steamer wand into the milk just a little bit (see the picture), just like it kisses the surface.
Step Five: Use full power with the steamer.
Step Six: Aerate the milk.
Now it comes to the harder part. You need to add air into the milk. You know that you are adding air into the milk when you hear that crumbled paper sound—but how do you know when it is enough?
Here’s a tip: Take an imaginary line on the pitcher until you have filled the pitcher with milk, and when the density of the milk has increased by 2 cm, stop adding air.
Step Seven: Stop the aeration.
How do you stop adding air to the milk? Just fully submerge the steamer wand into the milk, and you will not add air to the milk anymore.
Step Eight: Complete the steaming.
In the beginning, I mentioned that you need to keep your hand over the pitcher to feel the temperature and have a good grip.
Now you will stop the steamer when you will feel a little bit of heat in the palm of your hand.
The milk should have a temperature between 113 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step Nine: You’re done! Congratulations.
Pro Tips: If you are getting foamy milk, try to add less air to the milk. If you are getting milk with no foam at all, try to add more air to the milk. If you have bubbles, just tap the pitcher onto the surface to get rid of them.
How to Make Latte Art with a Heart Design
Now, how do you make latte art? Get your espresso ready, and let’s start making a heart with the right pouring technique.
Step One: Gauge distance.
Before you start pouring, you need to maintain a distance of about 2-4cm between the cup and the pitcher.
Step Two: Begin pouring.
Start pouring the milk into the cup with circular motions so that you can homogenize the milk with the espresso and create a stable surface. Stop pouring when the cup is 1/3 filled.
Step Three: Focus on the middle of the cup.
When the cup is 1/3 filled, focus on the middle of the cup, and your next pour should be right in the middle of the cup.
Step Four: Slow your pour down.
Get very close to the spout of the pitcher to the surface of the beverage and pour in the middle. Keep it still until you get a point.
Step Five: It’s time to design.
After you get a point, go up with the pitcher while slowing down your pour and go in a straight line cut.
Step Six: You’re done!
Congratulations, you have made a really good heart! So that’s it for my lessons on how to make latte art. But it’s just the start for you on your latte art adventures. Keep practicing, and have fun!
How to Make Latte Art – FAQs
Can I Make Latte Art With Milk Frother?
How to Practice Latte Art?
What is a Latte Artist?
How to Make Latte Art: Tips For Beginners?
– Use cold milk
– Keep your milk pitcher clean
– Pour slowly and steadily
– Practice your technique regularly
What Are Some Popular Latte Art Designs?
What Is The Best Milk For Latte Art?
Can You Make Latte Art Without An Espresso Machine?
How Can I Get Better At Pouring Techniques?
Pay attention to your technique, the speed of your pour, and the height of the pitcher. Additionally, watching tutorials and seeking feedback from other baristas can be helpful.
What Is The Best Temperature For Milk When Frothing?
How Do I Create Intricate Designs In My Latte Art?
Some tips include using a small pitcher for better control, drawing on the surface of the crema with a toothpick or skewer before pouring, and practicing different pouring techniques.
Additionally, experimenting with different designs and practicing regularly can help you learn how to make latte art faster.