Preparing coffee is already an art form itself. Starting from choosing the bean considering its country of origin, roasting, and even to the preferred way of preparation – the experience and what it tastes like are a result of the barista’s creativity. The person drinking the coffee can also experience coffee as an art, on how it uses three senses (tasting, smelling, and seeing) to assess how great it is. Aside from coffee being art itself, another form is to make coffee latte art.
Coffee latte art (or simply known as latte art) is a coffee-making technique created by pouring a microfoam on espresso and forming a shape or art on the surface in the process.
Basically, it is a latte with art on top. Latte is a kind of coffee that is made with a single or double-shot espresso and steamed milk. Equipment required for this process would be an espresso machine, a milk jug, and a latte glass. Obviously, the ingredients to make coffee latte art would require coffee and milk.
Make Coffee Latte Art: The Beginning
With regards to the history and beginnings of the latte art, there is no exact dates or exact location on where it is started. Some sources claim that it is initially developed in Italy. It is contributed to the development of espresso machines by Luigi Bezzera in Milan and patented in 1901.
Almost two decades after, the introduction of steam wand in espresso machines paved the way for cappuccinos and lattes. The earliest recorded development of latte art was in the 1980s in Seattle, Washington in the United States. David C. Schomer, the owner of the coffee shop Espresso Vivace, credits the process of microfoam to Jack Kelly in 1986. Schomer makes coffee latte art in 1989 with the heart shape, followed by the rosette pattern in 1992.
How To Make Coffee Latte Art
It is important to note that even if you have all of the necessary ingredients and equipment would mean that you can easily make a coffee latte art. A lot of practice will be required to achieve desired effect and shapes. Any coffee bean for the espresso will do, but not all kinds of milk can be used.
Microfoam refers to a process made to the milk using the steam wand of an espresso machine. For this process, it is recommended to use is the whole milk as an alternative and plant-based milk ones may not achieve a microfoam. One brand of almond milk is marketed to be ‘foamable’ and can be used as a replacement.
Creating A Basic Coffee Latte Art
If you would like to make coffee latte art, beginners can try the infamous heart shape. Here’s how:
- Start with a perfect shot of espresso. In an espresso machine, put around 20 to 22 grams of finely ground coffee beans in a portafilter. Use a tamper to flatten out the ground coffee evenly. Lightly remove any excess grounds on the top of the brim and sides. ‘Pull’ the shot by placing it on the espresso machine (instructions will depend on the machine used). Use a latte cup to catch the espresso shot below the portafilter.
- For the milk, use full fat or whole milk and do not heat it before steaming. Put it in a pitcher with a thermometer (the one dedicated to coffee) and raise the steam wand of the espresso machine (but not too high). Once there is a large bubble forming it means it is too high. Turn off the wand once the milk reaches 140 F to 180 F on the thermometer.
- With one hand, tilt the latte cup with espresso at a 45-degree angle. The other hand will pour the milk into the center. To allow the milk to reach the bottom of the latte cup, the pitcher should be held high.
- When the latte cup is about three-fourths full, pour the milk going down and start shaking a bit the hand that is holding the latte cup. Stop shaking when the pitcher is close to the cup. There should be white circles appearing at the surface.
- When it is almost full, pour the milk in a straight line down the middle from one side to the other, pulling the white circles into a heart.
It’s okay if you did not succeed on the first try. Expert baristas would agree that beginners will need time to practice creating the perfect shape. You’re lucky if you got it on just one try. Baristas would advise keeping in mind the pouring process on how fast it should be and where it is going to the cup. It is crucial in forming the shape.
The Future of Coffee Latte Art
Coffee latte art is one of the famous ways of creating art in a drink that does not require the machine to do the actual art. New technology has been introduced by the company Ripples – a patented coffee printer. It works like a normal printer, but it uses coffee extract as the ink.
Just input the design on the printer, place the drink on the dedicated holder, and print the photo. The company says that it can also print on the beer’s foam.
To celebrate coffee latte art, qualified baristas can join The World Latte Art Championship. According to their website, visual features, creativity, parallel patterns in pairs, pattern comparison, and overall performance are used to evaluate baristas. Another event that will feature coffee latte art is The London Coffee Festival in the UK. There will be a dedicated area that will show the beauty of making coffee latte art.
Learning how to make coffee latte art is truly a skill and makes coffee more enjoyable by giving it an exciting visual appeal. The introduction of new technology may not affect the popularity of the original process of making coffee latte art. Beginners can continue practicing to gain the skill and pass it on to the next generation to preserve this coffee art form.