Pouring your Heart Out or Latte Art 101

First and foremost, good coffee starts with a well-pulled espresso shot. Latte art is merely the final flourish of a milk-based coffee or chocolate drink. Sure, it’s the most fancy and most celebrated portion of coffee but a lot much work goes into preparing that final cup.

So, let’s assume you have mastered everything else and you are ready to pour your heart out! You will be pouring awesome latte art before you know it.

Frothing First
Start with frothing good milk. Good art follows good milk. There’s Verve’s video and also this Howcast video by CounterCulture Coffee. 

BASICS

Your basic shapes:

a. Monk’s Head.

b. Heart and Rippled Heart. 

c. Rosetta

d. Tulip 

(Full series of the videos are here.)

By mastering these basic shapes you will be able to try more elaborate latte art.

Other basic videos/resources:

Verve Coffee Roasters on pouring a rosetta. Love their videos. Remember to stick to the programme! Interestingly, some people find pouring a rosetta easier than a heart or tulips so depends what you find most comfortable with.

Five Senses’ detailed write-up on how to pour your first rosetta if you are more word-based learning sort of person and also, trouble-shooting latte-art.

THE HARDER STUFF: 

Check out Japanese Latte Artist, Junichi’s Youtube channel here : http://www.youtube.com/user/dreamerjnw and he was down recently in KL to give some pointers on latte art. Interview with his tips on TimeOutKL here.

BeanScene Mag videos by various award-winning latte art winners in Australia. Here are some of my favourites:

The Florette
Swan Lake
Rosetta with Hearts
A Double Rosetta Swan
A Video with Various Styles of Swans/Peacocks

Once you have all that down, remember, the three key things you are aiming for are:
1) Good contrast of the crema and the design;
2) Symmetry; and
3) In the centre.

For me, while practice I had some useful maxims or ‘mantras’ when learning latte art:

1. Watch the Hands, not the Art.
Watch the videos a few times. Watch both hands and the subtle movements and the feel free to pause.
2. Flow with the milk. Be one with it.
After a while of frothing and before you begin, you will get a feel for whether you have too much milk or too little. You can compensate in the short run by pouring off some of the foam if there’s too much and also frothing just the right amount in the future.
3. Respect the process.
Like learning everything else, it’s the process that matters the most and not the results in the beginning. If you understand the process in the beginning, you are better able to consistently pour a lovely design.
4. Practice, practice, practice.
I find practicing 5-6 pours a time perfecting a single movement seems useful before getting tired. Take a break and then try again.

Besides these videos and practice, practice, practice, you could try approaching your friendly baristas for a pointer or two! Whatever you do, remember to pour your heart out!

P.S All said and done, it might make sense to find people conducting courses if you are the sort of person who learns best under those conditions.

3 thoughts on “Pouring your Heart Out or Latte Art 101

  1. Insightful for the new beginners and the uninitiated. Keep up the writing and inspire us all to better appreciate the men and women who hold up high the pitcher.

  2. There are different approaches to latte art training, but the one thing I wish people told me was to learn how to do tulips first, before rosettas. Some thoughts I had on the dependency structure of techniques.

  3. Pingback: Coffee Reads #3 | Caffeinography

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