About 1 or 2 years ago, my morning routine was to go to my favorite local coffee store and order my delicious cup of latte. Without a doubt, it always got me excited when watching the baristas magically make the art for my drink.
Have you ever been served a cup of latte that has a fluffy cat or a cute panda? It’s so fascinating, isn’t it.
Regardless, it really got me thinking that “Could I do that beautiful art for my coffee at home too?” So if you’re a big fan of latte, you probably share the same thought too. If you want to take your coffee experience to a whole new level, then this unique Latte art, which is also known as coffee art or coffee designs, is for you.
Most importantly, they can be performed right at home. The only things you need to get the right “ingredients” to make it happen.
Firstly, What is Latte Art?
Since the first appearance in the 1980s, latte art quickly gained its widespread popularity in coffee houses and cafeteria. However, it mostly could only be performed by some upper echelon of baristas. Many coffee lovers really wanted to learn this unique art and technique.
Since making espresso becomes much faster and easier with the introduction of electric coffee machines, many professional baristas figured out the way to combine steamed milk and traditional Italian espresso. This unique combination of flavors not only provided a new sweeter drink, but also lead to the creation of “microfoam milk”, which results in the end of exposing milk technique with high-powered steam.
Baristas managed to learn through a process of unexpected discovery that lead to the new branch of coffees with this technique. This perfect combination between espresso and barista art could be demonstrated as the classic canvas and paint. They have improved and developed the techniques, in fact, nowadays you can define a professional barista based on their latte art skills.
Latte art is a method of preparing coffee that refers to the pattern or design, using steamed milk to pour into a shot of espresso.
There’re 2 main types of latte art: free pour art and etching. There are several required tools that baristas use in order to make these. These tools come with a reasonable price and wide range of use, which make it perfectly suitable for home coffee lovers. Here is a list of required equipment:
- Frothing Pitcher
- Damp rag
Before making the foamed milk at home, you need to create a perfect espresso drink for your latte. Make sure to check this “Golden Rule” of making a great shot of espresso here.
So what is the best type of milk to make the ideal foam? You probably wonder the same thing too.
In order to make a great latte, you need a proper type of milk. If you think that you can use any milk to steam, then you are completely wrong. In fact, choosing the wrong one can ruin the taste and texture of your latte.
Firstly, you can begin with cold milk, which will require more time and efforts with the milk to create decent foam.
If you use non-fat milk or low-fat milk, they usually take more time to froth than high-fat one.
The low-fat milk doesn’t contain much butter fat, which will create more bubbles when making micro foam for the latte art.
Besides choosing the types of milk, there is also a quite common question regarding making latte: “What are the proper temperature for steaming milk for latte art? “
It’s highly recommended to go 200°F for coffee and the perfect milk temperature is between 142°F and 160°F.
The closer the temperature gets to 140°F, the sweeter and better-taste the milk is. If you let the temperature goes too high – from 170°F to 180°F, it might be too hot to drink and alter the taste …
What if you start with a cold milk? Will it make any difference? The answer is yes. Both the pitcher and the milk should be cold because the colder they are, the better it tastes.
Can you use non-dairy milk to create a latte art?
Unfortunately, you can’t make or design a latte art with this type of milk. However, you can make a simple “heart” shaped using non-dairy milk.
Frothing jugs come with a variety of designs, materials, sizes, features and prices. For making latte art, you can use metal pitchers, which are very durable. These stainless steel pitchers are often used as a cost-effective alternative to silver plated servingware.
If you are in a budget, then you can go with some cheaper metals, but keep in mind that they may be prone to smudging or rusting. Thus, it’s strongly recommended to have a stainless steel pitcher to create a perfect cup of latte.
Things to Look for When Buying Frothing pitcher.
As mentioned above, apart from the materials, finishes, features, prices, there are several factors to look out for when buying frothing pitcher, especially if you buy online.
Firstly, one of the key factors is to look for physical flaws
If you buy in a local store, make sure to check for cracks, scratches on the jugs as they can alter the result. Unfortunately, this is not possible when buying online, but you can ask the sellers about the condition of the pitchers before buying it.
Make sure to look for those features that can help your steaming job much easier, such as a wide handle, indented pouring spout, sturdy base, etc.
The type of coffee machine, as well as the steam pressure, can also define the size of frothing pitcher. At the end of the day, you only want to buy a frothing pitcher that has enough room to allow the milk to roll inside.
As mentioned earlier, it’s very critical to control the temperature when foaming milk. The perfect temperature for micro-foam is below 100°F. If it goes higher, the bubbles will be too big and hard to break down.
Of course, there are various thermometers available on the market. You can get them online or buy at the local store. If you want to the immediate result, you can check out the digital frothing thermometer, which works on a battery.
Here are some tips to achieve the perfect steamed milk.
The best temperature for steamed milk should be between 150° and 155°F. Higher temperatures will result in scalding the milk. If it is too low, your milk won’t be steamed properly that can alter the taste when mixing with espresso.
It is very important to keep the steam arm clean when it comes to steam or foam milk. If you don’t get rid of the residual water from the steam arm before and after steaming milk, the milk can have too much moisture, which results in watery milk. Hence, make sure to use the rag to wipe the arm after every step.
Last but not least, it’s time to show your art. These latte cups are available in various shapes, designs and sizes. The cup size actually plays an important role in your art. The most popular cups usually come with round bottoms, shallow bowl shapes and have the capacities between 7 to 12 oz.
With a little practice, you will be able to create the Latte art with these simple equipment at home. In case you don’t know how to make latte art properly, check out this amazing tutorial video.
All in all, I really hope this guide can help you make a beautiful art for your cup of latte. Enjoy and happy frothing!