Latte art is a Barista skill consisting of pouring steamed milk into a shot of espresso to create a pattern or design on the surface of the resulting drink. When steaming milk for espresso, frothing techniques are applied to create microfoam, a smooth and sweet milk that beautifully compliments espresso. Microfoamed milk is textured with the consistency of liquid foam and can be poured into various patterns through what is known as free pouring. Crema is important when free pouring latte art, the espresso shot requires a good layer of crema for patterns to emerge to their full potential. The contrast of the white milk foam with the reddish brown tint of the espresso results in visually impressive latte art. Typical designs using free pouring include hearts and rosettas, more complex designs can be created by using multiple pours.
Latte art can also be achieved with the use etching. With this method, a latte art pen is used to literally draw on the surface of the drink. Small portions of foam can be added to the top of the cup and manipulated into shapes using the pen. Latte pens are often dipped into the crema of the espresso to create contrasting details in the white milk foam. Some Baristas even opt to use syrups or sauces to produce a clearly defined pattern. Etching designs range from geometric shapes to more complicated drawings. Etched art doesn’t last as long as free poured latte art because the foam generally dissolves at a faster rate.
Although latte art does not indicate quality in itself, it is indicative of the passion of the Barista. The ability to pour or etch patterns into drinks will let your customers know that you are serious about espresso.