How to create latte art

There are lots of ways to decorate a cup of coffee. You can dust a design into the top of a cappuccino using a template, or get creative with the latte foam. For baristas and coffee aficionados, though, the ‘creme de la creme’ of decoration is ‘free pouring’, or creating a design by pouring alone. The classic pattern, a sort of stylised fern, is known as the rosetta, is the easiest for a beginner. Here’s what to do:

Before you start, assemble your equipment. You’ll need an espresso machine with a steam arm, a metal jug and a fresh shot of espresso in a large cup (actually, you might need several of these, both to practice with and to keep you going while you do). You’ll also need plenty of cold, full fat milk.

Put the milk in the jug and froth it at full pressure using the steam arm of your machine. Raise the arm to bring the nozzle close to the surface of the milk for two or three seconds to get more air into the liquid, then bring it back down as too many bubbles could make the milk unstable.

Rotate the jug as the milk heat. Keep an eye on the thermometer – you’re waiting for 55 degrees Celsius. The milk should now look smooth and thick with thousands of tiny, almost invisible bubbles, a state known as microfoam.

Now comes the tricky bit! Position the coffee cup over a tray in case it all goes a bit wobbly. Then, if you’re right-handed, pick up the cup in your left hand and tilt it at a 45 degree angle. Take the jug in your right hand, and hold the spout around 10cm away from the surface of the coffee. Carefully fill the cup until the foam is around 2cm from the top, then slow the pouring down and gradually return the cup to a level position. Without breaking the flow, move the pour to the front of the cup and gently move your wrist from side to side until you see the design start to appear (this is the bit that takes a little practice). As you move towards the rear of the cup, gradually reduce the side to side movements so that the remaining ‘leaves’ are narrower, then pour back through the pattern to make the ‘stem’ of the fern. Remember – practice makes perfect!

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