Art is among one of the most important forms of human expression and its unique shape can be found in our world of coffee! Some might say coffee is just a drink, not art. We have opinions, but whatever you consider it, it takes a lot of time and practice to create.
We won’t be able to make something pleasing just because we have a paintbrush or in this case a milk pitcher. But, once we understand how to control the amount of air going into the milk during steaming, we will be able to start practicing making micro-foam and pouring art into our coffee.
To make crisp, well-formed designs in espresso drinks, the milk must be steamed to a certain texture. That texture is the consistency of wet paint–and after steaming, it should cling to the sides of the pitcher, and move freely, without being too thick and stiff. This slightly thinner texture makes the lines in our designs cleaner, but also is the reason we must pay close attention to the height of our pitcher when pouring art. The tip of the pitcher must be as close to the surface of the liquid as possible for the white lines to start showing up. The closer the pitcher is to the espresso the thicker the lines will be, and the farther away, the thinner the lines will be. Check out our How to Steam Milk video for more.
Pouring a Heart
The heart is a good base to begin with. It combines the skills of milk steaming, with the skills of pitcher position, pour speed, and the cut-through. Once you master the heart, you’ll be in a good spot to move on to move complicated designs like the tulip or the rosetta.
To begin, tilt the cup and pour the milk into the center of the espresso from about 7 centimeters above the surface of the espresso. This is considered the high position.
Once the cup is ¼ full, pause, tilt the cup towards the pitcher and drop the tip of the pitcher as close to the surface of the liquid as possible without touching the liquid. This is considered the low position. Keep pouring low and into the middle of the cup, increase the speed of the pour, and begin to move the pitcher very slightly from side to side. Dropping the pitcher low and increasing the speed of the pour is what ultimately allows the milk to “skate” across the surface and show up, rather than sinking below.
Once the cup is almost full, slow down the pour and level out the cup. At the same time bring the pitcher up high again, and pulling a thin stream of milk straight through the design to finish it off. Think of this motion as a right angle. Up, then across.
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For those of us who take up this hobby, learning about coffee is a lifelong journey and everyone around us can enjoy the benefits of our daily grind.
We’d love to hear if you have a personal experience of making a latte with a heart in it for someone in your life! Send us your photos or tag us on Instagram @lamarzoccohome