So, you want to make beautiful latte art like a pro? We don't blame you. After all, there's nothing quite like a well-made latte — and when it's topped with gorgeous latte art, it's even better. In this how-to guide for latte art, we'll show you everything you need to know to make amazing latte art. We'll start with the basics and then move on to some more advanced techniques. By the time you finish reading this guide, you'll have the basic knowledge on how to make latte art that will rival the best baristas in town – just add in a few latte art cups, and you’ll be golden!
What Is Latte Art?
Before we go into the process of making latte art for beginners, let’s first discuss what it is, where it came from, and why exactly it has become such a popular practice in coffee shops in recent years.
Latte art is the practice of adding designs to coffee drinks by pouring milk or cream into coffee that has been brewed with espresso. The resulting patterns are often intricate and beautiful and can turn an ordinary cup of coffee into a work of art. This practice dates to the 1800s, with Italian baristas adding milk to espresso to make it more palatable. The swirling motion of adding milk created unique yet simple patterns on the coffee. However, it wasn’t until the 1940s that baristas began creating latte art to do more elaborate designs, including the swan and the Rosetta.
Today, many coffee shops around the globe offer coffee drinks with latte art. In fact, baristas have also mastered other techniques to create art on coffee drinks – some of which even use thick milk foam to create “embossed” figures on lattes. There’s no doubt that latte art is now becoming an almost essential skill for baristas to practice and master. And with a little patience and some basic tips, you can create intricate latte art at home!
What Are the Two Types of Latte Art?
Aside from the most common type of latte art, which consists of a barista using a pitcher to pour milk into coffee, there is another type of latte art called etching. To help you better understand how these two differ from each other, here’s a short description of each:
• Free pouring – In free pouring, the barista uses a pitcher to pour steamed and frothed milk directly into the coffee. This is the most basic type of latte art and is usually used for beginners. For a latte art to be considered excellent, the edges of the figure you’re creating need to be defined and contrasted against the dark brown layer of the espresso. It should also be placed in a balanced position – without the pattern touching the edges too much.
However, if you’re still learning how to create latte art – don’t beat yourself up too much about it. These standards are typically applied to master baristas to ensure they create exceptional coffee for their customers.
- • Etching – This latte art technique is a method where the barista uses a spoon or a drawing tool to create designs in the coffee foam. In some cases, baristas also use thick coffee sauces to draw on the latte foam.
While some coffee connoisseurs turn their noses up at this technique because they consider etching as “cheating” because it uses other designing tools, etching still requires skill to master. If you’re planning on adding flavor syrups to your coffee drinks, etching would be a worthwhile latte art method you can explore and practice on.
Beginner Tools to Get Started With Latte Art
Now that you’re familiar with what latte art is and the different types, the next step is to round up the tools that you will need to create elaborate patterns. To get started, here’s a complete list for your beginner latte art journey:
- • Milk frother or steaming wand – To create the frothy layer on lattes, you will need either a milk frother or a machine with a built-in steaming wand.
- • Espresso machine – Lattes and other coffee drinks use espresso shots as their base. To create the best contrast between the crema and the milk, you will need a high-quality coffee and espresso machine – ideally with a milk frother.
- • Milk frothing pitcher – Baristas will need a good milk frothing pitcher for maximum control while you’re free pouring. While you may use other tools, a specialized pitcher may make latte art creation at home easier for you.
- • Mug or cup – Find a cup or mug that will have enough space for you to practice your latte art with. Using a small cup heightens your risk of getting scalded while you’re pouring your milk.
How to Make Latte Art for Beginners
It’s now time to learn how to master the technique to create beautiful latte art. To help you, we’ve come up with an easy step-by-step guide to help support you on your way to becoming a true latte art aficionado.
- Know what pattern you’re planning to create. Knowing what beginner latte art you’ll be pouring will help you focus your pitcher movements better. Before starting your process, choose between the various patterns that you can create, whether it’s a simple heart, a Rosetta, or a swan.
- Prepare and steam your milk. Pour cold or room-temperature milk into your pitcher before pulling an espresso shot with your machine. This will help latte art beginners organize their process so that you won’t keep your espresso shot waiting for a long time. As much as possible, use full-cream milk because its high-fat content will help you get just the right consistency.
Pull and mix your espresso shot. After steaming your milk, pull your espresso shot with high-quality coffee beans. Grind your coffee beans until they’re fine enough for your espresso machine to extract all the flavors and oils. After pulling, slightly mix your shot to combine the crema and body and pop a few bubbles that may cause your latte art to be distorted.
If you don’t have an espresso machine, however, you may want to try out portable espresso coffee makers instead. You get almost the same coffee concentration at almost half the price of a standard espresso machine.
- Pour milk into the center of your cup. Now that you have your blank espresso canvas, pour your milk into the middle of your cup. Pour a few ripples of milk into your cup to mix it with the espresso. For beginners to latte art, learning to pour at the center will help you better balance your pattern and push it down as you pour more milk.
- Drop the pitcher until it’s almost touching the end of your cup. Once you’re ready to create your pattern, drop the pitcher close to your cup and start pouring with a side-to-side motion. Your pitcher’s movement will help you create solid shapes or ripples in the layers of your latte art.
- Slice through your design. Once you’re happy with the initial look of your pattern, it’s time to slice your design down in the middle. With a single motion, bring your pitcher up a few inches above your cup, and pour the remaining milk in a smooth upward motion – slicing through your layers.
The Different Latte Art Patterns You Can Make
Latte art is all about creativity and making something beautiful with milk and espresso. There are different patterns that you can make, and each one is unique and beautiful in its own way.
Some of the more popular patterns are:
- • Heart – The heart pattern is one of the most basic latte art patterns for beginners – with most baristas starting out by mastering a solid heart before going on to creating more elaborate latte art. If you’re a beginner, it’s best that you practice by creating a heart first.
- • Tulip – Considered the most common latte art in coffee shops, the tulip is a beautiful pattern that stacks solid hearts on top of each other. This means that baristas will need to take breaks in between milk pouring to create the distinct shape of each “leaf” on the stem.
- • Rosetta – The Rosetta is an elegant design that's perfect for coffee connoisseurs. It’s also one of the more complicated types, especially since it requires continuous milk pouring. To create a Rosetta, a barista must master side-to-side pitcher control to create a layered appearance.
Latte Art for Beginners: All It Takes Is Practice
All in all, making latte art is not as difficult as it looks. With a little bit of practice, patience, and attention to detail, anyone can create beautiful designs in their coffee. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the process. Who knows, you might even find a hidden talent for latte art! If you’re looking for good latte art tools or even just coffee-making equipment if you’re finding new coffee brewing techniques, check us out at Curated!