These are the 5 Fundamental Rules of Latte Art
#1 – Decide on a pattern
Before you start pouring anything you want to decide on a pattern because this will give you a clear direction of what you are doing. You may decide to practice swans for a whole day for example or do a different pattern for every single coffee. This is really up to you as long as you have a plan of what you are doing beforehand.
Having a set pattern to start with will give you a clear outline of what you are doing and will help you to concentrate on your pour. You will also be able to start pouring the design earlier, because you know exactly what you want to achieve.
If you just start pouring without even thinking about what you are going to do, you will often start to late to create your pattern and then the cup will already be full before you have finished the design and that will result in overflowing the cup if you are trying to finish it off.
#2 – Don’t waste time
Oftentimes I see people who let the milk or the espresso sit for a while before they start pouring their coffee. There can be many reasons for that – you may be busy with other things such as serving a customer or preparing the saucers for your coffees.
However, having your coffee sit around before you are pouring it is less than ideal. The espresso will lose crema and the milk will disintegrate quickly. Have you ever seen latte art videos in which people use espresso with a shiny rich crema? You will only be able to do the same thing when you use the espresso right after it has finished extracting.
With the milk it would be ideal to use it right after you have finished heating it because it will be the silkiest and result in the best artwork. However, if you have a single boiler espresso machine you may only do your milk and espresso one at a time. In that case you should heat the milk first and let it sit while the espresso is extracting. Once you are ready to use the milk you can the swirl the milk jug until the milk is reintegrated.
#3 – Move your jug
Have you ever tried pouring a beautiful rosetta and ended up with some kind of layered heart? The reason for this might be that you were not moving your jug enough. With that I do not mean the wiggling motion that will typically leave traces on the milk but moving your milk jug in relation to the cup.
With a rosetta for example you want to start pouring at the back of the cup and then slowly move towards the front while you are pouring and creating your pattern. With this movement you will create space between the milk traces you are leaving which will result in hollow leaves when you are finishing off the pattern. If you are only pouring condensed sticks at the moment, this might be the technique that will take your art to the next level.
This is basically important for all latte art designs. You will always achieve the best result when you move the jug in relation to the cup. Depending on the pattern this might be a movement from the back of the cup to the front, a movement from the left of the cup to the right or vice versa.
#4 – Control your milk flow
The milk flow is another fundamental thing that is often done wrong. Especially when people are just starting out with latte art and are unsure of what they are doing you see them changing their milk flow while they are pouring. This could actually be part of your pouring technique, but when you are just starting out you want to keep a steady milk flow to achieve consistency.
The steady flow will result in an even pour – meaning that all the milk traces you leave while pouring will have the same width. More milk flow will result in wider lines whereas less milk flow will result in finer lines. As you can see, changing your milk flow will result in uneven lines in your pattern.
The milk flow also influences how much time you have to finish your patterns. Sometimes you see people overly eager to pour a nice pattern and they increase the milk flow which results in more milk pouring into the cup and less time to actually pour the pattern. They then run out of time and end up with a not so ideal result.
Conversely you may see someone who is rather anxious while pouring and does so at a very low speed. This will result in more time to pour the pattern and finer lines. Oftentimes the pattern will then have a lot of very fine lines that are very condensed as the lines will eventually be pushed together.
#5 – Practice, practice, practice
Lastly you will need a lot of practice to become good. Pouring latte art is a skill that is developed through repetition and trial and error. Of course you will be able to improve your learning curve by watching latte art videos, but you still need to practice to implement what you have learned in the videos.
If you have the chance and you are passionate enough you could get a job as a barista. With a job like that you could work on your passion every day and be paid for it. Is there any better way to earn a living than doing something that you really love? I don’t think so which is why I am so glad to have a job as barista!
However, if you haven’t made your passion your job yet, that’s no drama at all. You can still make plenty of coffees at home and practice like that. As long as you are mindful of how you want to improve and what skill to work on next, you will make constant improvements and you will be able to make some great coffees in no time!