There’s no way around it, great latte art takes practice. It’s one of the biggest causes of frustration for would-be baristas, but, once you’ve cracked it, the results will delight your customers.
The two key ingredients are a fresh, well-pulled shot of espresso with a thick head of crema and properly textured steamed milk.
To make the ‘microfoam’ that is poured into your cup, add steam to the milk and then rapidly heat it. This process is called “denaturing” as it caused the physical properties of milk to be altered. The milk should be stretched to around 35-40°C and steamed no more than 65-70°C.
Once your textured steamed milk is ready, you need to pour it in such a way that the milk drains first and finishes with the foam in order to create the design.
Hold the cup tilted slightly away from you to keep movement of your pitcher hand to a minimum.
Hold the pitcher about an inch above the cup and, steadily, pour the steamed milk into the centre. If you pour it too slowly, the milk will separate in the pitcher.
To make a rosetta
Gently move the pitcher closer to the cup and tip it with your thumb to slightly speed up the pour.
Carefully wiggle the pitcher back and forth to begin creating a zigzag pattern.
Un-tilt the cup, slow down, raise the pitcher a half an inch, and finish the rosetta.
Back the pitcher toward the edge of the cup closest to you while untilting the cup.
Slow down your pour slightly, raise the pitcher about a half an inch above the flat cup, and drizzle a small stream of milk back across the centre of the cup to finish the rosetta.
Have a heart
Pour the milk side to side in one area of the cup.
Continue until you create a big circle of crema.
Move the jug slightly forward and continue pouring on the big spot of foam until the cup is nearly full.
Finish your heart by pouring in a quick straight line forward.
To make a tulip, you are effectively pouring three incomplete hearts. First, pour the milk until a half-moon shape arises and then stop.
Make another half-moon with the spout almost on the espresso. Now pour with a pushing movement in the direction of the crescent moon that you made before.
Repeat the process several times to ‘stack’ the petals of the tulip one above the other.
After the last half-moon, lift the jug to make a thin beam and pour through the different half-moons to create the ‘leaves’ of the tulip.