A Latte Art instructor, 10-year Barista & Baristaswag.com founder
If you've never poured any sort of latte art, but the notion just seems like something you want to try - it's definitely an exciting new world to step into.
However, with the myriad of designs and an overwhelming number of obfuscated, and at times cryptic, instructions to follow, making your first poor might seem like a far fetched dream off the bat.
That's why today we're here to bring you a quick and easy boiled-down overview of the 3 essential steps involved in making amazing latte art.
Let's dive right in!
First and foremost, you'll want to prep the pitcher that you'll be using. You'll want to use the best milk frothing pitcher for latte art that you have available. Many baristas actually chill their pitchers for around 30 minutes before using them. This gives you two important benefits. It reduces the risk of scalding, which is always good. And it also allows you to steam the milk for a bit longer, which makes the crema far easier to work with.
We recommend the EVO latte art pitcher that you can get right here at BaristaSwag!
Pour in the amount of milk that you'll be using for the design of your choice.
If you're still getting started, we recommend that you use a liquid thermometer to keep an eye on the milk while steaming it to prevent scalding. The trick here is to keep it just below the boiling point for as long as possible, without scalding it.
Once you're ready, you'll want to put the steam wand into the milk, all the way towards the bottom of your pitcher. And as you turn on the steam, you'll want to gradually raise the steam wand towards the surface. Once it's out, keep it roughly a centimeter away from the surface and watch out for any bubbles or stretching that may be taking place. What you're looking for here is smooth and velvet-like milk, not bubbly foam.
Once the milk hits around 37 degrees Celcius, insert the steam wand into the milk again, towards the bottom of the pitcher. However, lower it along the side of the pitcher and gently rotate the pitcher counter-clockwise. Keep doing this until the milk reaches roughly 65 to 68 degrees Celcius. What you want to see here is tiny bubbles (microfoam) forming rather than big ones.
Once the milk hits the temperature range, take the wand out and turn off the steam.
At this point, you'll want to give the milk a good hearty swirl for around 30 seconds. And if you see any bigger bubbles forming, pound the pitcher on your counter a few times and then resume swirling. This enriches the texture of the milk, which plays a pretty big role in the quality of your designs and the finite taste.
Once you've frothed your milk, it's time for you to start running shots.
We won't go into the exact details of how you should prepare espresso shots, as it could be regarded as an entire science in its own right, and practically every barista has their own slightly modified take on it. However, if you're just starting out and need a quick and comprehensive guide - here's a quick step by step walkthrough.
Once you've pulled your shots, pour it into the coffee mug of your choice or a beverage container with a big open mouth-piece.
Keep in mind that once you've poured the espresso, you'll need to start pouring the milk to form the design within 10 seconds, or it just won't come out as good.
While the specifics of the pour for each design do vary to a degree, here are some basic tips and tricks that you should keep in mind:
Start your pour a few inches away from the cup and pour steadily until the cup is roughly half full. Once the cup is roughly half full, you'll want to lower the spout of your pitcher gradually to bring it closer to the crema, without actually touching the surface.
Make sure that the transitional pour is done at a consistent, steady speed as pouring too fast will break the crema layer and going a tad too slow will leave all the foam in the pitcher.
Don't be afraid to hold the cup slightly angled.
Make sure that any motions are smooth, any sort of sudden movement can ruin the design and cause a big mess for you to clean up.
Voila! If you've followed the guide up until this point, you now have all the know-how you'll need to pour some truly Instagram-worthy designs of your own.
Keep in mind that you'll still need to practice each of the steps quite a bit to get the feel for things and find the golden ratio when it comes to the motions and the speed of your pour.
But, at the end of the day - you're now well on your way to becoming a skilled barista. So keep at it, and best of luck!