We have all been wowed when our barista hands us a latte adorned with a perfectly poured rosetta or, even more impressive, a true-to-life tulip on a cortado—it almost feels like a crime to drink it. I have some great news: some latte art is not as complicated as it looks. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you pour a heart like a pro!

Texture, Texture, Texture

The most important thing when it comes to pouring latte art is the texture of the milk. If the milk is too thick, the heart will pour like a thick blob, and if it’s too thin, it will melt away. You want to create microfoam that holds the shape of your art.

How do I get perfect texture?

  1. Fill your pitcher with 20% less milk than will fill the cup you want to pour in.
  2. Before you begin steaming, have the wand tip sit just below the surface of the milk and is sitting a third of the way across the pitcher (this will allow for the milk to vortex later). The wand should be resting on the lip of the spout.
  3. Turn on the wand to full pressure and listen for what sounds like paper tearing. This is the sound of air being slowly introduced.
  4. Stop introducing air within 2-5 seconds(it will by lifting the jug very slightly (about 5mm) so the tip is just fully submerged in the milk. This will silence the milk and create a vortex in the center of the pitcher. When complete, the milk should stretch approximately 20% by volume.
  5. Steam to 130°F for drinks 6oz or smaller and to 140°F for drinks 7oz or larger. Milk steamed to a lower temperature will almost always yield a sweeter taste, but is harder to accomplish!
  6. Swirl the jug and gently tap it on the counter to remove any larger bubbles. The milk should be glossy and resemble wet paint.

 A Swift and Controlled Pour

You are working with the flowing milk to help it drift and appear into place. Hold your cup at an angle, and slowly pour some milk from higher up (about 3-4 inches away). Once you’ve reached about halfway, bring the spout close to the surface, and you should see the white microfoam emerge. Pouring close allows for the microfoam to sit on top of the surface of the drink.

No, you shouldn’t cry over spilt milk, but you don’t want to waste too much, either. To practice your microfoam skills, fill your milk pitcher to where you usually would with cold water, and add a drop of dish soap to steam it with the steps above. The mixture will foam similarly to how milk does, with a much smaller ecological footprint (warning: this mixture gets hot very quickly!)

November 15, 2023 — Zara Snitman

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