A Guide to Latte Art

Whether it’s to give us a break from the rapid pace of modern life, pop in to grab a quick coffee on the go or just to take a break from the world over a leisurely lunch with friends, coffee shops have become a day-to-day part of our lives.

The coffee itself has always played a vital role in the morning routines of many people, but with the growth in popularity of coffee, more of us are exploring its limitless potential. With a huge variety of coffee available, customers are now more aware than ever of what makes a good cup, from the ingredients used to the skills of the barista behind the counter. This is why we take so much pride in our ingredients, as well as the training we provide to our excellent staff.

Lattes are particularly popular, and the technical excellence of baristas has led to the growing popularity of what is known as latte art. Now a frequent sight in any established coffee shop, latte art adds a twist of creativity to each latte, showing the craft of the barista alongside serving a great-tasting cup.

Here, we take a look through some of the basics of latte art and how you can bring this to your own coffee shop.

A guide to types of coffee drinks

How Does Latte Art Work?

The reason why lattes can be used to create such creative artworks relies much on its technical components. Therefore, to learn how latte art is made, we need to understand how a latte is created.

Less commonly referred to as a café latte, the term ‘latte’ refers to the steamed milk which goes into making this coffee. A latte is made with espresso, on which 150% steamed milk is added. This differs from a latte macchiato, in which espresso is added to steamed milk. It also differs from the popular cappuccino, which includes equal parts steamed and foamed milk.

It is the unique qualities of steamed milk which makes latte art possible. Simply pouring milk into coffee causes the two to blend, but in a latte, when the components have been separated through the steaming process, it is possible for the milk to remain distinct.

Espresso being poured from a machine

How to Create Latte Art

Because the creation of a quality latte is reliant on skill and timing, creating art on top of it requires an incredible level of focus and experience. Temperatures, speeds and angles all go into making latte art that not only looks good but also works in harmony with the excellent taste of the drink.

The most important aspect of creating latte art is, of course, the milk. To produce the perfect steamed milk, the liquid must be chilled then rapidly heated while being steamed. This alters the makeup of the milk, creating the velvety sweetness that the latte is renowned for. It is also important to not allow the steaming to go too far, as too many large bubbles at this stage can affect the ability to create latte art and the quality of the drink

Once the perfect steamed milk has been created, you must quickly begin to pour it into the espresso shots. It is crucial that you don’t pour too slowly, as the foam will become trapped in the jug. Start from a medium height until the cup is about half full, allowing the latte to form before you think about creating your design. Once you reach this stage, pour the steamed milk from close to the cup. This stops the milk from going deep into the drink, and you will begin to see it appear at the top.

Baristas move the jug of steamed milk as they are finishing the pour to produce specific designs, and the type of movement depends on the image they are looking to create. For example, a leaf pattern occurs when the jug is moved from side-to-side while moving to the bottom of the cup, before a final move through the latte to finish. The dense nature of the drink also allows other ingredients to be added on top for impact, such as cocoa powder or syrups.

A latte with heart design and petals

Here at Esquires Coffee, all our baristas are trained to the highest level, whilst our finest Fairtrade and organically sourced ingredients mean that we can serve our customers with the best possible drinks. If you would love to learn how to make latte art whilst running your very own store, then discover the coffee franchise opportunities available at Esquires Coffee today!