Latte art is another way of saying art using milk. Latte art is enjoyed by baristas and customers. It creates a fun cup any time.
Read on to learn how to make coffee art with milk and what to do if you do not have an espresso machine. Also, we will discuss some dairy free alternatives, different techniques, and tools that can be used in this art form.
How to Make Latte Art
Starbucks Coffee has a YouTube video where Jacob, a store manager and coffee master, shows step by step how to make the heart shape of latte art.
- A good espresso machine – something that is strong enough to steam your milk
- A wide cup that is a little on the shallow side – this will allow room on top for your art
- A pitcher with a pointed spout – this helps control the flow of the milk
- Use cold whole milk – Whole milk pours smoother than any other milk
When Steaming Your Milk
- With the steaming wand near the surface, aerate for three seconds
- Air needs to be introduced into the milk in the beginning to allow the milk to foam.
- Be careful one of the biggest mistakes people make is over aerating the milk, this can be done if the milk is foaming or the wand is screeching in the cup
- You want to see a whirlpool effect. This helps break down the bigger bubbles
Making the Latte Heart Art
- Take the pitcher of milk and tap it on the counter if there are still big bubbles left
- When you are done tapping the pitcher, gently swirl the milk in the pitcher
- Start by pouring the milk in the middle of the espresso with the pitcher a little higher above the cup
- Then once built up a little bit, put the tip of the pitcher closer to the edge of the cup
- Rock the pitcher back and forth to create a white layer on top of the brown layer
- Slowly level cup to a normal drinking position
- Once your shape is made with your circle wide enough, then pull through the center from top to bottom
- This will turn your dot into a heart
One Way to Make Latte Art Without an Espresso Machine
Alex Gerasimov shows in his YouTube video how to make latte art at home using only a French press.
- Milk (whole milk is best)
- Ground coffee (in the video, Alex uses a French press to make his coffee also)
- French press
1: Fill coffee cup with milk and heat in microwave to 130°F-160°F
- A steaming thermometer can help with this
While Alex uses Aeropress for this video he says you can use any:
- Dripping coffee
- French press
- Instant coffee
2: Pour milk into a French press
- You will stretch the milk by 1 centimeter
- The milk should increase in volume – do not overdo it
3: Make your coffee base or get your coffee base ready in a cup
4: Start with the plunger immersed in the milk
- Stretch the milk
- Try to avoid large bubbles
5: Pour milk into pitcher
- Tap pitcher on counter to break up the bubbles and swirl milk
6: Hold cup at angle and start adding milk with pitcher higher above cup until getting mixture needed
7: Bring pitcher closer to edge of the cup and start your design
- As you pour your design, start to level the cup out until the design is finished
The finished design of this latte art is a tulip.
The Three Main Latte Art Designs
Kelsey Carr shares in detail the three main latte art designs on this Wolff College of Coffee YouTube video. The three main designs are:
- The heart
- The tulip
- The rosetta
The demonstration of the heart how to is done in this video. The brief description she gives is to mix in the milk, drop the pitcher down, and pull through. Kelsey says this is the easiest and fastest of all the latte art patterns.
- Mix in the milk to set your canvas
- Start ¾ of the way away from the pitcher
- This will give you more room to work backwards for the design
- Drop the pitcher down, add the milk, break the pour
- Breaking the pour is when you lift the pitcher so that the milk stops coming out.
- After each pour break move the pitcher in a forward motion to create leaves
- When you reach the final heart, pull through the center to the bottom to finish the tulip
- Start the same with mixing to set base and break the pour
- This starts the same as the tulip, ¾ of the way up the cup to allow room to work backward
- When starting the pour, keep a loose grip on the handle with a loose wrist
- Rock the pitcher back and forth to create the stem
- When you reach the top, pull through the bottom
There are different ways to approach making the rosetta design, and everyone’s design will look a little different. These are the three basic designs that can be used as a base pattern to build from. Play around with these designs and add your own creative spin to it.
Vegan Milks That Will Work with Latte Art
- Califia Farms Barista Blend Almondmilk – I recommend the red label because this is the sweeter of the two kinds made by this brand.
- Oatly Barista Edition Oat Milk – this brand creams and foams nicely
- Pacific Foods Almond Barista Series – this foams nicely also
- Ripple Barista-Style – this is pea milk that is dense and creamy
Tools That Can Be Used for Latte Art
- Pitchers can be used for the free hand pouring that has been seen in the videos above.
- Foam frothing spoons can be used to decorate the tops of drinks by being able to scoop out the foam and make the design as you go.
- Powder shaker and stencils can be used on top of your foam or whipped cream. Place the stencil on top of the drink and shake powdered cinnamon on top. When the stencil is lifted, the design will be on top of the whipped cream or foam.
- Latte Pen or etching pen can help draw designs or lettering on top of the foam of your drinks. A toothpick can be used as well.
Is Latte Art Only for Lattes?
The term latte art is what is used to decorate the tops of many drinks. Most coffee shops will either have their own names for their drinks or even have a special way of making and decorating drinks.
- Lattes can be decorated in the ways that have been described above, plus more in-depth designs.
- Cappuccinos have two forms:
- Dry cappuccinos have a lot of foam. Having a lot of foam can help with latte art designs.
- Wet cappuccinos have less foam and more milk. Etching into wet cappuccinos is something that can be done as well.
- Latte macchiatos while the top of the drinks may not be wide enough to free pour latte art, stencils or etching can work.
While baristas at coffee shops will have had practice in latte art, these drinks can also be made at home and designed by you. Baristas are going to have many fancier tools to use for their latte art. However, if making latte art at home, the fancy tools are not necessarily needed. A regular spoon could be used instead of a foam frothing spoon, and a toothpick can be used instead of an etching or latte pen.
Latte art can be accomplished in different ways. Any kind of milk art on top of a drink is considered latte art. Having a barista make one for you at a coffee shop can be a real treat. But it is possible with some practice to be able to do this in your own home.