Latte art is the icing on the cake on every good cappuccino or flat white. With a little practice, care, and patience, you will also succeed in latte art. With Latte Art there are a few things to consider and then it’s time to practice, practice and practice. Because as the saying goes: Practice makes perfect. This also applies to Latte Art. With the help of our step-by-step instructions, you can lay the foundations for becoming a Latte Art coffee artist.
The term latte art
The coffee surface is like a canvas that can be painted on. Of course, no colors are used for this. The painting material is milk. The milk is first perfectly foamed and then poured into the espresso using a specific technique. This creates beautiful pictures. This art on the coffee surface is called latte art. Latte means milk and art means foaming. Put together this results in the art of milk. In recent years, the art of milk on coffee has become increasingly popular.
There are the basic figures of a heart, a tulip, or a fern leaf. In addition to these basic figures, there are a variety of other great and creative figures. And there are always new motifs. So not only is the great taste of a specialty coffee amazing, but also the appearance.
Latte art is real coffee art
Do you always look forward to the figure that the barista will conjure up in your cup after you have ordered a cappuccino, flat white, or caffè latte? And do you think every time you look at the hot drink that you want to serve exactly that to your guests at home at some point?
It is well known that people can conjure up beautiful pictures from many different materials. This type of art is often long-lasting and can be admired in exhibitions, museums, and other occasions, for example. But that certain people pour beautiful pictures on coffee with milk is a very special kind of art and is the icing on the cake for every barista.
This coffee art can only be admired for a certain time. And yet barista around the world pour breathtaking latte art figures into cups, even though they know that the drinks will be drunk a short time later. There are even national and international Latte Art championships specially designed for this purpose. In these competitions, baristas are chosen for their creations.
The popular “coffee with a heart” or other beautiful shapes
Do you want to serve some love? Then spice up your hot drink with latte art? Surprise your guests with great motifs made of milk on their coffee. However, to master latte art properly, you need a lot of practice. There are many beautiful flower and animal patterns or completely free creations but the absolute classic is the cappuccino heart.
Would you like to prepare a delicious cappuccino at home? Then we recommend our guide article on making cappuccino.
The heart is not only a great visual highlight for coffee connoisseurs. It is also particularly suitable for latte art to achieve its first successes. Because with the Latte Art Heart you get a good feeling for the flow properties of the milk. The milk foam heart is only created by the pure pouring movement. Besides, the heart forms the basic pattern for many other Latte Art pictures. So we recommend you start with this shape.
After that, you can practice the tulip. The tulip is made up of two or more hearts. Once you have mastered both of these patterns, you have laid the foundation for Latte Art. Now other classics will follow, such as the leaf, the rosette, and, at some point, certain very own creations.
A milk or barista jug is essential for Latte Art
A milk jug or barista jug made of stainless steel is an indispensable aid for Latte Art. Stainless steel offers clear advantages compared to pots made from other materials. Stainless steel is easy to clean and the temperature can be felt with the hands from the outside. The pots should be slightly more bulbous towards the bottom. Since the basic shapes are poured from milk foam, the milk jug for Latte Art needs a pouring spout. This allows the milk foam jet to be poured into the coffee in a controlled manner. A small jug with a volume of around 350 ml is suitable for one cup of cappuccino and around 500 ml for two cups of cappuccino.
In general, it is practical to have at least two milk jugs – a large one for frothing and a small one for decanting. Some prefer to water with small pots. This means that the milk for two cappuccinos is frothed in larger jugs and then transferred to a milk jug with a volume of 350 ml. In the beginning, we advise you to practice with a small pot. You will celebrate your first sense of achievement faster with it than with a large jug.
Tip: The high-quality Motta milk jugs are particularly suitable. They are also often used by professionals. These milk jugs have a perfectly shaped spout for Latte Art. They are available in many different sizes and versions. We can also recommend the milk jugs from the Alessi company.
Latte Art accessories
Baristi use all kinds of tools for their milk art, such as spatulas, latte art pens, skewers, knitting needles, and, in some cases, even dental instruments. These tools are used to draw motifs on the milk foam surface. Other foods such as chocolate sauce, cocoa powder, or food coloring can also be used.
Milk foam for latte art
With the help of the milk foam, a picture is poured onto the coffee surface. That doesn’t work with cold or just warm milk. For latte art, the milk must be frothed in a stainless steel milk jug. The consistency of the milk foam is the key to Latte Art. If the foam is too firm and voluminous, it will not penetrate the surface of espresso and will not combine with the crema. The milk foam must not be too runny either, because then it no longer rises to the crema.
To conjure up the perfect milk foam for Latte Art, you have to consider the relationship between the drawing and rolling phases. The infusion phase continues until the milk is around body temperature. The subsequent rolling phase is of great importance for the perfect milk foam for latte art. As the milk rolls, the air bubbles are distributed and become finer and finer. Micro-fine bubbles develop. That is why this foam is also called microfoam in specialist circles. The milk jug should keep moving until the microfoam is used. It can be tapped once on the tabletop. This causes larger unwanted bubbles to collapse. It is important to swivel it afterward so that the milk foam does not settle on the milk. It should stay nice and homogeneous.
Tip: To develop an even better hand for the frothing process, you are welcome to read our detailed article on frothing milk.
Cup shape for latte art – it can be a little more belly
The shape of the cup is essential for successful latte art.
Cups with a round base are suitable for latte art. The cups should open towards the top so that the milk foam can rise through the crema from below. It is also nice if the opening is generally wide. This means that the cup offers more space to cast a motif on the surface.
The bottom of the cup should not have any sharp edges. This means that the optimal inside of the cup merges smoothly from the bottom into the rim. In this way, the desired flow of milk is achieved.
If you pour the milk foam from the side, it will flow over the floor and rise again unhindered. As soon as there is a disturbing edge of the kink between the floor and the edge, the stream of milk breaks and cannot rise to the surface.
To practice latte art, a large cup with a capacity of 260 ml is a good playground to start with. A larger cup allows more time to practice correct hand movements when pouring. At some point, you will succeed in latte art in a smaller cup like the Ancap Palermo Cappuccino Cup with a capacity of 150 ml.
Preparation for several cups – the professional trick
Sometimes you want to prepare several cups at the same time. However, we recommend frothing milk for two cups in a jug. The reason for this is that the milk foam loses its homogeneous consistency as it is poured. During the pouring process, the milk separates from the milk foam. If it takes longer to pour from a pot because you are preparing several drinks, the last coffee will have the least foam. The first cup gets the slightly firmer milk foam, as a lot of foam is poured from the surface of the jug at the beginning. More and more liquid milk foam is poured into the next cups. It, therefore, makes sense to pour some of the milk foam into another container.
The procedure is as follows: First, the milk for, for example, two cappuccinos is frothed in a larger jug and then swirled. A third of the resulting microfoam is poured into a small, preheated jug. Use the remaining milk to pour the milk froth for the first cappuccino from the larger milk jug. There is still quite a liquid foam left over from it. This is mixed with the firm milk foam that has previously been decanted. These two foam stocks are brought together by pivoting movements. Now the second cup is poured just as beautiful milk foam as the first.
Pour milk foam for latte art
The “first” pouring of the foam into the prepared coffee is an important moment. The rim of the cup serves as an aid. The milk jug is first placed on the rim of the cup. Now align the pouring spout so that the first stream of milk enters the cup, slightly offset from the center. However, that also depends on which figure you want to cast. Some need a different starting point. Now the jug is slowly tilted. The first jet dips beneath the surface of the coffee. Then the jug is raised from the edge to about five centimeters above the cup. The milk is poured in without haste until the cup is about half full. Now the painting surface is prepared.
Possible errors when pouring
When pouring milk from a jug, height and speed are the decisive factors for success with Latte Art. If the milk is poured in from too high, the crema rises and the milk settles underneath. If the height is too low, the crema will mix too much with the milk. If the flow rate is too slow, there will not be enough movement in the cup. The milk does not come back to the surface. As a result, no pattern can be drawn. If it is poured in too quickly, the crema will mix too much with the milk. The result is a light brown cappuccino. When pouring, pay particular attention to these two sources of error.
Latte Art Tutorial
We’ll now give you some practical advice on how to pour the basic shapes. The heart forms the basic shape for many patterns. Therefore, TangyCoffee tutorial starts with a heart.
Latte Art Tutorial: The Heart
The heart is particularly suitable for a slightly thicker layer of foam and goes well with a cappuccino. That’s why we like to call it the cappuccino heart. Put the milk jug down on the front rim of the cup. Position the milk jug so that the first jet of milk does not dip in the middle, but rather towards the front of the cup. Now raise the milk jug to about two inches above the cup. The frothed milk dips through the crema. Do not change the position at first. The milk gets under the crema and spreads apple-shaped around the pouring point. This is now the actual painting surface. When the cup is half full, lower the jug just above the painting surface. A milk foam circle forms. The more milk flows into it, the larger the circle spreads out. When the cup is almost full, the milk jug is held a little higher again. Now pull the jug quickly to the opposite rim of the cup. The crema is carried along by this movement. The two halves and the tip of the heart arise.
If this basic shape works very well, then when you pour the milk foam circle, you can gently swivel the jug back and forth. This creates a nice optical effect. The heart not only consists of milk foam but also encloses the crema.
Latte Art Tutorial: The Tulip
The tulip is a finer variant of the heart and consists of at least two hearts. Unlike a single cappuccino heart, you start with the first heart on the opposite edge of the cup. However, the heart is cast exactly as described in Tutorial 1. When it is completed, pouring is interrupted. The milk jug is then placed again. The second heart is now poured into the front rim of the cup. This should be smaller than the first heart. The front heart is completed by swiftly swiveling to the opposite rim of the cup. The back heart is shaped into leaves.
The Tulip: more explanation
Tulip is ideal for advanced learners. The tulip consists of more than two hearts. You start with the first heart on the opposite edge of the cup. Right next to it you put a smaller heart. This is repeated as often as the number of sheets required. You close with a little heart. In doing so, you pivot again to the opposite rim of the cup. You pull the milk stream through all hearts and thereby pour the style of the tulip.
Latte Art Tutorial: The Sheet
Another effective pattern is the leaf or fern leaf. For this, you should already have a good feeling about the flow behavior of frothed milk. The first steps are like a heart. However, you start pouring on the opposite edge of the cup until the cup is half full. Then the pot is lowered. You pull the jug with slightly swiveling movements towards the front of the cup. This movement creates a zigzag pattern. These are the outlines of the sheet. When you have reached the front edge, lift the jug a little bit again. Now pull the milk jug back to the opposite rim of the cup. This creates a trace of the middle leaf vein.