Latte art has been around since the 1980s, but has become a current fad in modern society. There is even a world championship for the competitive-type baristas – seriously – bracket-style, head-to-head matches between the competitors pouring their artistic masterpieces into cups, and the winner walks away with a pretty impressive cash prize.
The two main types of latte art are free pouring in which the pattern is created during the pour (this type is required if you want to compete in the world championship) and etching, which is when the design is created using a tool after the pour. It takes more time to prepare the free pouring drink, and it is the most common type of latte art in American cafes.
Some people argue that too much focus on the appearance of the drink can lead to a decrease in palatable taste. A skilled and knowledgeable barista not only creates a beautifully, sculpted piece of art, but also a delicious, well-made, flavorful beverage.
Of the two main types of latte art, free pour requires more technical skills – it takes a lot of dexterity, patience, and practice to learn free pour latte art. You can go through hundreds of coffees by the time you master this technique. The most common forms of free pour latte art are the heart shape and the Rosetta (fern). More advanced forms of free pouring methods include a swan, tulip, or even a scorpion.
The etching method requires artistic talent because you’re literally drawing on coffee with a thin rod, such as a coffee stirrer or a toothpick, to create complicated drawings and images on the coffee. An artistic barista can etch anything – faces, flowers, animals, and more. The foam dissolves more quickly on the etched latte art than that of the free poured latte.
You do not have to be a barista to create a beautiful cup of art. Try making your own at home. Here is a list of you will need to get started and some tips that might come in handy once you have done your research on how to master latte art.
What You Will Need
- An espresso machine with a commercial grade milk steaming wand
- A milk frothing pitcher
- Milk of your choice
- A round cup
A Few Tips
- A round, bowl-shaped cup is best for latte art.
- Keeping your milk pitcher in the refrigerator allows you to steam the milk longer for better texture, and decreases the chance of scalding them milk
- Whole milk is easiest to pour
- Use a smaller pitcher for home espresso machines
- A liquid thermometer will help you remove the milk before it scalds
- Be patient when you practice – it takes time to become skilled in latte art