Walking into your favorite local coffee shop and seeing what design is in your coffee may be the best part of the day. And sometimes these cups look so good, it’s almost a shame to drink them. But, the caffeine calls and down it goes.
However, there is no reason you can’t put that same smile on your face at home. Latte art may seem difficult, but in only an extra few minutes, you can truly make your coffee into something that will make you smile — and maybe make you feel like a bit of a badass too.
But before you get to creating, Marcus Gray from Lost + Found Coffee Company recommends a few things to make your life easier, including a way to create a delicious latte without a heavy investment.
“An espresso machine with a steaming wand makes creating lattes easy,” says Gray. “Lattes are made with one or two shots of espresso. It should be about one third of the drink. The first recommended machine is The Bambino.”
Gray also says that The Barista Express is another brand he recommends when taking espresso a bit more seriously. He notes that it has a higher price but it has greater capabilities. He also explains that the pressure behind the steam wand is slightly higher, which produces better milk foam.
In addition to making espresso, Gray says that a metal pitcher for steaming is a must-have (almost as much as the caffeine you’re getting ready to drink!). “The temperature stick is nice but if you don’t have one, a handheld thermometer or judging by sight can work too,” he says.
If you’re looking to get your own, Gray says you want to be comfortable with whatever you are holding. A basic recommendation would be this espresso steaming pitcher from Apexston.
Yes, you may think that the coffee is truly the most important part of this, but it turns out, you are very wrong when it comes to a beautiful latte. According to A Couple of Cooks, the most important part of a latte is the milk. And, when you’re ready to kick off the art part of the drink, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- The best type of milk to froth with is whole milk because of the high fat content. If you don’t want to use whole milk, 2% or oat milk are the best options.
- Use the milk at its most fresh point. The closer milk gets to the expiration date, the more difficult it is to get it to the silk-like microfoam.
Full Steam Ahead
Once you’ve made your espresso and steamed your milk to approximately 145 degrees, you’re going to begin the frothing process. You’ll want the milk to get 30% thicker and have a silky look. The best way to make this happen is to tilt your metal pitcher and put the wand (from the espresso machine) in, but not too deep or too shallow. (You’ll know it’s shallow because it’ll create bubbles. You’ll know it’s in too deep if you hear a high pitch noise.)
Once this process is complete, bang your pitcher on the table to get rid of any excess bubbles looming in your milk. Tips for those without an espresso machine: Heat your milk in your microwave. Then use a milk frother, french press, or whisk to create crema. Now, it’s time to get designing!
A good place to start with designs is a heart, because it’s the base of most latte art patterns. After your milk is thick and foamy, you’ll use about 80% right away. Pour the milk slowly into a titled cup — about 45 degrees — and make sure the pitcher is pulled back from the cup and a narrow stream is pouring in.
Once the cup is ⅔ of the way full, begin pouring the milk quickly and closely into the cup, left to right. Once you’ve poured the milk left to right, you should see a round shape. Then, pour the crema in a straight line, away from you, to create your heart.
Hot Tip: The Perfect Brew recommends keeping your pour in the center of the cup to avoid making your design too close to the edge.
It may look hard, but Rosetta Art isn’t as difficult as you may think. Just like in the heart design, start by pouring the crema into the cup at a 45 degree angle, but keep the pitcher a little further away (higher) from the cup. (The stream should be narrow so it sinks to the bottom of the espresso.)
When the cup is ¾ full, bring the pitcher down until it touches the cup. Then, starting from the back of the cup (the side opposite of you) gently rock the pitcher left, right and come back to the center.
Once at the center, move up a little and repeat the process. Once you’ve made it to the side of the cup closest to you, pour a narrow stream in the shape of a line from you to the back of the cup. That is the line that divides the “Leaves,” giving you a fern design. Life Hack has a helpful video in case you need a little assistance.
This one combines the techniques used in the heart and rosetta designs. You’ll start the same way you created the heart (left and right motion), except like in the rosetta design, you’ll start on the opposite side of the cup.
According to Serious Eats, the key to creating the tulip is to stop the pour. Once you create the first round shape, stop then begin pouring back into that base. Repeat this process as many times as your cup will allow. Finally, pour the stream of crema from you to the back of the cup and voila — Tulips!