Calling all coffee lovers!

Is there anything better than a creamy coffee to wake you up in the morning? Yes, coffee shop beverages are a bit on the pricey side but there's something about that hot drink that makes it all worth the money isn't there - the way it's served, the coffee beans, the oh so creamy milk and, best of all, the detailing of those stunning rosetta, tulip or coffee images that just finish the cup of coffee off perfectly.

But, let us tell you a secret, you don't have to be a Barista to master latte art!

How to do Latte Art

Before you get too excited, note that while you can teach yourself latte art and become a master at pouring steamed milk, it is not something that you can simply learn overnight. It takes quite a lot of practice (which isn't such a bad thing when you think of all that coffee you get to drink... unless it's you who is paying for the coffee beans!), and there will no doubt be lots of frustration along the way. But you'll get there with our helpful tips!

You see, just like most forms of art, latte art is all about getting familiar with your medium - in this case, steamed milk and an espresso shot of coffee (we'll go into this in more detail but the best type of coffee is freshly ground whole beans). Add to that getting used to the tools and equipment you have - such as the cup, the jug and the steaming wand which froths the milk up to perfection, and so on.

So, how do you actually create latte art?

The most basic way to describe this is the act of skilfully pouring hot, steamed milk into a shot of coffee and forming a pattern.

And, ahem, your failed attempts cannot be classed as 'abstract' latte art, as much as you try to convince yourself and others!

We are here to help teach you how to make latte art
Want to know how to create an attractive cup of coffee like this? Photo credit: Miss Ichijouji on Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

Basic latte art patterns

There are a few common patterns that you'll see again and again on the surface of a cup of coffee, whether you opt for a latte or flat white. However, remember that you will only get latte style art and can only create this pretty finish when having a milky coffee, as it's the milk meeting the coffee that makes the shapes which form the familiar images.

So check out these wonderfully easy tips on how to create latte art, in less than 10 steps! Note that the mini-tutorial starts at the point of pouring milk.

Rosetta

The Rosetta, which looks somewhat like a fern leaf, is one of the most common forms of latte art in the UK.

How to draw rosetta style latte art

  • Step 1

Keeping a good distance from the cup, pour your milk right into the middle of the coffee in a steady motion, so not too fast nor too slow. Once you have half-filled the cup, drop the spout into the mug and try to get as close as possible to the surface of the coffee mixture.

  • Step 2

With the spout lowered into the cup, keep pouring at a medium-speed pace into the centre of the cup. Once nearly all the milk is poured, you need to start wiggling the jug as you continue to pour, using small back and forth actions.

  • Step 3

As you wiggle the milk, you will begin to see layers form, radiating from the spout. These layers continue to stack up and will fill the design-less space. Once the pattern has spread across the surface, slowly move the spout to the back of the cup. If you cup is nowhere near full or it is spilling, then you've not done this step quite right.

  • Step 4

As you move the spout to the edge of the cup, you need to slow down your pouring speed and lift the jug or pitcher up and away from the coffee. Once lifted, swipe the remaining milk in a line through the middle of the design to give the rosetta the beautiful symmetrical look that is so famous.

What kind of equipment and ingredients you need for latte art

As we've already mentioned, there are a few tangible factors that make a difference in your latte art, too.

For instance, you simply cannot expect to create a masterpiece using sub-standard products or tools. That would be like Picasso using Crayola crayons on a sheet of basic printer paper.

Take note of the tips below.

You need a few staple pieces to make good latte art.
Making professional-quality latte art needs professional or very good equipment. Photo credit: nalundgaard on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

The milk

You can use any type of milk you like when making a coffee, but the creamier the better when it comes to latte art so full-fat milk is a popular option.

The key, however, to perfect latte art is to steam the milk correctly. You want your milk to look like silky paint when you pour it, and here's how.

You want to create a whirlpool effect when you are steaming, so submerge the wand, tilt the jug slightly and watch all the bubbles come to the surface and made your milk silky smooth!

Remember: for cappuccino art, you need slightly more foam so want more air when steaming.

Finally, getting the temperature right is a deal-breaker - get your milk to between 50 and 60 degrees for latte heaven!

The coffee

Latte, by definition, is more of a milk drink than a coffee drink so the main consideration is the milk.

That said, the body of the coffee needs to stand up to the frothy milk so you are best off using medium coffee blends, and preferably freshly ground beans. You can use a form of powdered coffee, however, you may not get the authentic taste you are after and like those from coffee shops where the coffee beans are freshly roasted and ground.

Latin American beans are a great and popular option among coffee shops, but you can find a range of coffee beans from other areas such as Italy which are formulated for espressos. If you know your coffee, then you will understand what we mean when we say that you need a coffee that can offer a good crema under pressure.

The most common flavours of coffee for latte are those with chocolate, nutty or caramel undertones.

Where can you find latte art classes?

If you aren't confident using written guides or video tutorials, or you are just struggling to grasp the concept altogether, then why not look out for some classes where you can be taught by a pro?

Latte classes online

We came across at least two online paces offering barista-style training digitally:

  • Virtual College
  • Barista Hustle
Would you be willing to attend a class to master the perfect rosetta?
Find lessons in creating barista-style latte art. Photo on Visualhunt

The first is relatively straightforward, with a certificate being awarded after completing a general barista course, yet the second has a range of more complex and scientific areas to hone in on, such as Milk Science and Latte Art.

Latte classes in your area

If you, however, looking for a class nearby where you can go and see and touch the equipment, then why not consider the following courses. These are based in London, but if you search your area (you can do this easily on Google) then you are sure to find some near you.

Taking the last establishment, for example, you can attend an intermediate level course for latte art charged at £99 and covering:

"Fine-tuning your milk foaming technique to ensure consistency
Improving your current latte art portfolio to include more complex patterns including swans.
Covering competition patterns.
Training will be held from 10 am to 2 pm"

Latte art tutorials online

On the other hand, if you are happy to teach yourself using your tools at home and nothing else but the Internet, then we have tracked down some of the best online tutorials for you.

Tip: Don't be put off websites, as some re just as good as videos with exceptional step by step guides and descriptive images.

Videos

  • Coffeefusion - Latte Art Basics Tutorial - Latte Art 101
  • Starbucks Coffee - How to make latte art at home

Websites

  • Coffee Science - How to do latte art
  • Lifehack - 5 easy latte art designs

And there you have it - your introduction to creating latte art! We hope that you get on ok with this new skill and hope to help you once you are ready to move onto the next stage of latte design!

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Daniel

A student by trade, Daniel spends most of his time working on that essay that's due in a couple of days' time. When he's not working, he can be found working on his salsa steps, or in bed.