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What On Earth is ‘Latte Art’?

Ask any coffee aficionado and they’ll confirm that there’s most definitely an art to the perfect cup. In fact it’s an industry that rivals wine or fine dining for the level of connoisseurship associated with it. It’s something our partners at Dear Green coffee in Glasgow are well acquainted with. They’ve even got great taste in milk (if we dare say so ourselves!). Recent years have seen ‘the art of coffee’ taken to a whole new, even more literal level with the emergence of ‘latte art’. ‘What’s that?’ you ask. Well read on to find out more.

A Perfect Canvas

 The definition of a latte is a shot of espresso, with steamed milk – the frothy, sweetness of which has made it a long-standing regular on the menu of pretty much any coffee shop you care to mention. Somewhere over the years creatively minded baristas saw the potential for using the latte as a sort of canvas to create patterns, designs and even drawings in the mixture of coffee crema (the golden emulsion of coffee oil and brewed coffee) and delicate foaminess of the steamed milk.

Respect the Technique

Creating latte art isn’t no walk in the park. You need a good espresso machine, a steady hand and plenty of experience as a barista. There are two main techniques to creating your milky masterpiece, and those are pouring the milk in a way that creates a pattern or ‘drawing’ in the top layer of foam. You might have caught our recent video where Dr Graham has a go at pouring – even with his steady ‘farmer’s hands’ it wasn’t easy! We’re sure he’ll be busy practising for Coffee Week 2019…

The Science Bit

Latte art doesn’t just involve creative flair, it’s a fairly scientific process too. Milk that’s been foamed using a steam wand is known as microfoam, and it’s a tricky job to get right. Techniques vary from barista to barista, with the temperature of the milk, angle of the jug while steaming and of course the varying properties of different milks. 

More Than ‘The Usual’

Over the years we’ve seen some incredible creations, from classics like ‘the tulip’ to full colour works of art! Inspired to give it a go? If you’re a budding latte art barista or have an espresso machine handy at home we’d love to see your efforts! Just send your best creations over and we’ll feature the best ones on our social channels. Good luck