So you went to a fancy coffee shop nearby to buy a drink and when they gave it to you, it had a beautiful image on it made from milk foam and coffee. Impressive, right? The baristas behind the unique designs have clearly had some training in order to make the hearts, leaves and other designs you might see in your coffee mug. But the trick of the matter is that this playful art isn’t all that hard to reproduce. You just need the right tools.
How it’s Normally Done
There’s a reason it’s called latte art: traditionally, coffee art is made in a latte, which is a coffee drink featuring espresso, steamed milk and foam. The milk and foam blend into the espresso well, and the microfoam produced can be shaped into patterns with the milk pitcher, resulting in that impressive craft we know as latte art. Here are the steps, in order:
- The barista begins to steam the milk using a steaming wand, which is usually a part of a full espresso bar. The barista needs to hold the milk pitcher in a way so that the steaming wand produces just the right amount of foam, not too much and not too little.
- The barista begins to pull the shots for the espresso drink. The best way to get espresso shots for latte art is to pour them into a shot glass and then transfer them to the mug or cup. This way, there are no extra bubbles forming in the espresso to disrupt the pattern.
- The barista transfers the espresso to the mug or cup and readies the milk pitcher, tapping out any big bubbles that may have formed during steaming.
- The barista begins to pour the milk and foam into the espresso, holding both cups for full control. First, the barista will start by pouring it from high up, so that gravity will pull the milk down into the cup. As the milk level rises, the barista brings the milk pitcher closer, allowing for them to use the remaining foam to create designs. But it all has to be in one fluid motion!
- Add any finishing touches (maybe some cinnamon or chocolate sauce), and it’s ready to go!
While the process might not be incredibly complicated, it still requires some tools that you might not have on you. After all, not many of us have a full espresso bar on hand. So what can you do instead?
How to Make Latte Art at Home
First, you’ll need a mug. Any cup will do, but a ceramic mug like the one we feature in our store will work wonders. Next, you’ll need some coffee. Traditionally, espresso beans belong to the dark roast category, so if you’re looking for something comparable, you can try our traditional dark roast, or even our dark roast and chicory blend. It doesn’t have to be a dark roast, though. You can use any coffee bean you’d like for your coffee base, even our decaffeinated coffee.
By brewing the coffee with a stovetop espresso maker, you can have the perfect coffee base, ready for art. You can also brew it in any other manner, though it may not have the same pronounced taste common with espresso drinks. Next comes the milk! By heating up whole milk and frothing it with a milk frother, you can produce the same result as if you had steamed it on an espresso bar. Then, using the methods we taught you, you can pour the milk right into your coffee, carefully creating the art that you know and love.
Or, at least, trying to! You might not make the perfect coffee art on the first try, but you can definitely try and try again. And if you feel like cheating a little bit, a chocolate drizzle bottle and a toothpick does the trick just as well.