Frothing, steaming, texturing, stretching milk… what ever you want to call it, is a crucial part of any coffee makers repertoire. It’s a technique that, done well, can transform the flavour and drinking experience of a coffee, and therefore needs to be mastered. But before you start pulling out the triple rosettas, first you must master the fundamentals of latte art skills.
We’re going to explore a number of techniques that you can easily practice. These will give you the base you need to more into more challenging latte art pouring.
Choosing the Right Milk
With so many milks to choose from, it’s important to use the best milk for texturing, especially when your still learning the ropes. The easiest milk to froth for coffee is full cream milk. Not the cheap stuff though. Don’t grab a $2 bottle from the servo, grab a bottle of Norco or something of substance. Once you’ve mastered full cream milk, then you can move onto skim and alternative milks. They all can be frothed but do require variations of how much air to add and control to keep them from splitting. Splitting can be the result of over heating or not texturing well and blending enough.
Cooler Milk Pour Better
It’s far easier to pour latte art with milk that is between 50-60 degrees. Any hotter than 65 and you run the risk of your milk splitting. Any cooler than 50 and it won’t have blended well enough to form silky, paint like milk. If you haven’t get mastered your milk temperatures, watch our video on How to Use a Thermometer.
Free Pouring Over Etching
Free pouring is when you use only the pouring of your textured milk to pour a pattern. Etching is using a tool to draw pictures on the top of your coffee. You can create amazing pictures with etching but it doesn’t come close the satisfaction of free pouring. Free pouring is an art that needs to be mastered and should be your preferred method over etching.
Blending Your Milk & Espresso
Even when pouring latte art, you should still be thinking about the experience the drinker is having. The taste of the coffee and mouth feel should still be a priority when serving a coffee, even if you just want it to look good. We train baristas a technique that includes blending the espresso shot and milk for the first half of the cup to allow for a consistent mix of coffee and milk. This will improve the taste and texture of your coffee which still allowing you to pour great latte art.
How Much Milk is Best For Latte Art?
Check out our video on Using the Right Amount of Milk for Frothing Milk for Coffee. In this blog and video, Luke explains how to get the right amount of milk and why this is so important.
Tip: It’s much easier to pour latte art with a smaller amount of milk in your jug. If your jug is too full, you won’t be able to get your jug on the right angle.
Which Way Do I Hold The Cup?
The end goal is for the person drinking the coffee to hold the cup by the handle, and be looking at the pattern from the right angle. How to achieve this:
If you pour with your right hand – hold the cup in your left hand with the handle of the cup under your hand.
If you pour with your left hand – hold the cup in your right hand with the handle of the cup facing away from you.
Our 5 Techniques for Learning How to Pour Latte Art
We’ve developed these 5 techniques that are the foundations of pouring latte art. From these foundations, you can move only more advanced latte art pouring with ease.
Technique 1 – The In & Out
This technique is the ensure that you are blending your espresso & milk so you can lay the groundwork for pouring your latte art.
- Tip the cup to create a deeper area of espresso
- Pour fast into the centre of the espresso so a blog of milk blends with the shot
- Pouring too slow will result in the milk floating on the shot
- Pouring too fast will flip the crema over
- Practice throwing this blog of milk in – watch the above video to see it in action
2nd Technique – The Blog & Push
Here we want to follow on from the first technique and begin to swirl and blend the milk and espresso together then lead into this:
- Blend the milk and espresso till the cup is half full
- Pour blogs of milk on the side of the cup closest to your hand
- Practice pushing the blobs to the other side of the cup
3rd Technique – The Wiggle & Push
Once you’ve done the first 2 techniques, you can move on and start to add more shape to your patterns. Tip: The wiggle is not a shake, or a side-to-side action. It is a pivot (watch the video to see it in action)
- Wiggle your jug in a pivoting action
- Push the blog to the far side of the cup while wiggling
4th Technique – The Wiggle & Draw Back
It’s important to remember to wiggle and push to the far side of the cup before you start to draw back, otherwise you’ll end up drawing a Christmas tree.
- Wiggle as you push back
- Stay at the back of the cup and keep wiggling
- At the end of the pour, start to draw back to continue the rosetta shape
Drawing a Line Through to Finish it Off
Once you’ve done these 4 steps, you’re ready to finish off your rosetta with a line through it. Just remember that you don’t want to draw a white line through your pattern which means you don’t want to keep your jug at the height that you’ve just had it at to draw your pattern.
- Lift your jug as you draw back over the pattern
- The line should be thin and light so to not draw a white line
- Done well this will pull the pattern in and create even more shape to your latte art
How to Practice Latte Art Without Wasting Milk & Coffee
Practicing latte art can take a lot of time and therefore you need to be able to do it without having to prepare an espresso shot and new milk everytime. Here is a technique that allows you to keep practicing your latte art without wasting milk or coffee.
- Steam your milk, not too hot at just 50 degrees
- Pour around 30ml of your frothed milk into a cup, this represents your espresso shot
- Using quality chocolate powder in a shaker, lightly dust the top of the milk (not too thick as the next step will be harder if it’s too chunky)
- Spin your milk to ensure it’s blended well – watch our video on How to Steam Milk if you’re not sure how to best do this.
- Practice the above techniques using the chocolate milk to create your patterns
- When you’ve filled your cup, simply tip the milk back into the jug and repeat these steps
- If you need to revive your milk, you can always add a little heat to it.
Go Forth & Conquer!
Practice these techniques and you’ll see a huge improvement in the quality of your latte art, the consistency of your pouring and the control you need to nail it everytime.
Be sure to comment below or go to this video on YouTube to let us know what you think. We reply to all comments.