Latte art is the craft of creating patterns in the foam that tops espresso drinks. These patterns can range from relatively simple shapes like flowers or hearts to more complex creations like Chinese dragons.
The secret to successful latte art lies as much in the creation of the foam as it does in the execution of the art itself. A thicker, velvetier foam is much easier to work with in the creation of art.
To create the perfect foam, it is necessary to start with cold milk, preferably at a temperature of thirty-four degrees fahrenheit. This makes the cream stiff and easy to handle. At the very least, it is best to refrigerate the milk for half an hour before using it.
Another tip that will help to ensure a successful latte art endeavour is a liquid thermometer. This will help to ensure that the milk doesn’t get scalded. While steaming the milk it is important to keep the steam wand moving up through the pitcher at a slow, even pace while keeping the wand at least one centimeter from the top at all times. This also helps to keep the milk from scalding.
When the milk has reached a temperature of one hundred degrees fahrenheit, place the steam wand on the side of the pitcher and gently spin the pitcher counter-clockwise with the wand near the bottom of the pitcher. Continue spinning until the milk is between one hundred and fifty and one hundred and fifty-five degrees fahrenheit.
Bring the Foam to the Top
Let the milk settle for a few seconds, then swirl vigorously. If there are bubbles visible, pound the pitcher on the counter for twenty to thirty seconds and then swirl again.
Next, pull your espresso shots using seven to eight grams of ground espresso per shot. Don’t let the shots sit for more than ten seconds before using them. Now you’re ready to try latte art. You can begin with a simple design, like the flower pattern, though it may still take quite a bit of practice to perfect the technique.
Latte Art Technique
Pour the milk one inch from the bottom of the mug. When the mug is half full, gently shake the pitcher from side to side as you continue to pour, while slowly moving it backwards.
Congratulations! You’ve just made your very first work of latte art.
Potential patterns for latte art are as limitless as the human imagination. Swans, hearts, dragons, moons, suns, and even faces have been represented in latte art.
Should you enjoy this art form enough to perfect your technique and possibly even create designs of your own, you can take your art to the next level — the competitive level. Latte art competitions are held all over the world, with some of the top United States cities holding their own each year. Just a few of the US cities that do so are Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.
Cities around the world hold latte art competitions, all of which culminate in the winner from each country going on to the national latte art championship, which was held in Australia last year.
So whether you’d like to hone your skills and enter the competition, or perhaps just drink an interesting looking espresso, latte art has something for you.
If you need a little inspiration of what it is possible to make with Late Art, have a look at our gallery below. Remember, it is all about having fun, and most importantly enjoying your coffee!