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Learn the Basics of Creating Latte Art

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Cup of coffee beans, black coffee, and latte art

There are so many advantages to making your coffee at home: it saves time, money, and it’s always just the way you like it. However, one area where your coffeehouse’s latte may win is in aesthetics.

Creating eye-catching designs with nothing more than espresso and milk may seem difficult, but with enough practice, and even more espresso, even an amateur coffee slinger can turn the cup into a canvas.

Building Blocks of a Great Latte

A Smooth Espresso

All you’ll need to prepare your espresso is some of your favorite coffee grounds, milk, water and a Steam Espresso Maker (Need a refresher on how to use it? See below for a how-to.)

Frothy Milk

No great latte is complete without a nice, frothy milk. Froth your milk while your espresso is brewing until you get a nice velvety texture with a thin layer of film. The most important part of achieving this texture is positioning the steam wand correctly in the milk pitcher. For the first few seconds of heating, the nozzle should be just barely beneath the surface of the milk, allowing air to enter the liquid.

Got it to the right temperature? Give the milk a swirl and a couple of light taps on the counter before you pour. This removes some of the large bubbles and makes a thicker foam.

Where Milk Meets Mug

Pouring milk in coffee to create latte art

Each design requires a different pouring technique, but they all rest on some of the same principles. First things first - take it slow. Many people have the instinct to pour too quickly. Fast pours tend to lead to thick designs, while a slow trickle of milk will offer much more control over the final design.

Once you’re ready to create your latte art, grab your mug in one hand and the pitcher of milk in the other. Be sure to tilt your mug when you’re pouring the milk so you can watch how much milk you’re adding to the cup before getting started with the artwork. You should use about 2/3 of the frothed milk before creating your art.

Start with the pitcher held a few inches above the cup and begin pouring very slowly in a circular motion, then moving closer and pouring faster. The high initial pour will break the surface of the coffee without disrupting the top of your canvas while the faster, closer pour will push the coffee around to create a striking design. Ensure that you don’t move the pitcher too close too soon, otherwise the milk will completely cover the latte.

Creating a Heart

Heart shaped latte art

As you move the milk pitcher closer to the mug, you’ll start to see the milk collect in an oval shape on the top of the coffee. Once the oval has grown to whatever size you’re looking for, pull the pitcher a little higher and pour a straight line through the oval, making a heart.

Don’t be frustrated if you don’t get it on the first try – latte art takes lots of practice!