It’s relatively easy to get a picture perfect coffee whilst out and about, but how do you create an Instagram-worthy coffee at home? Most of my latte art skills were self-taught. I learnt on the job, and found my own techniques. Often it really does look more complex than it is. Latte art is easy to practice as long as you have access to a milk steaming device.
This is how I create a simple heart design using steamed milk.
Steam your milk. Once the milk is steamed, bang the jug lightly on the bottom against the counter to settle the micro-foam. This will dissipate any visible bubbles. Then, use a strong, slow wrist rotation to swirl the milk around the outer edges- making sure that any clumps are incorporated into the foam. Do this whilst you are extracting your espresso shot. This way when your shot is extracted and the crema has settled into the cup your milk is ready to pour. Otherwise, leaving the milk to sit in the jug will allow it to separate into foam vs. hot milk. If this happens, your foam will pour out all at once; making a macchiato-style coffee.
Extract espresso. The darker/stronger the roast, the more vibrant the crema, and the more contrast you will be able to achieve with your latte art.
Swirl milk around the outer rim to incorporate the crema and allow it to be worked with.
Once the cup gets to roughly around 2/3- 3/4 of capacity, steady the milk pour against the side of the cup and allow it to fill out into the center. The best advice I can give is to POUR WITH CONFIDENCE. Many people make the mistake of pouring too fast and thinly with the milk. This means crema sits on the top, and the milk pours down through the crema rather than with it.
Once a large shape has formed, pull the last remains of milk back through the white design, forming a heart-like design. The crema will pull through the milk, creating the heart shape.
Not everyone has the expertise to pour perfectly every time- even I can’t always create the perfect latte art. So how do you save an ‘ugly’ coffee?
I’ll teach you a barista tip.
Once you have poured your steamed milk into the coffee/crema, you will often find that there is some creamy white foam left on the top of the coffee. Using a spoon/stirrer, we can use this white foam to etch designs into the top of the coffee. The outer crema surrounding the edges can be pulled through the milk, creating a simple design. Simply pull the crema from side to side to create a pattern.
I encourage you to tackle latte art using these techniques. I would love to know how your experience goes!