Latte art is among the coolest things that baristas and other skilled coffee makers can do. A beautiful cup of coffee adds to the luxurious experience provided by the Black Pepper Coffee Company.
First you need to prep your milk pitcher. For a standard latte (10oz) fill milk up to about a pinky’s width from nozzle of pitcher. Steam milk while your espresso shot is extracting. Steam milk to 140 degrees (when the pitcher is almost too hot to touch--that's 140 degrees), and so that it has the texture of wet paint.
You’ll need to aerate your milk until the temperature of the milk is the same as the temperature of your hand. Once your milk/hand temperature have evened, submerge the steam wand a couple of inches below the milk's surface, creating a whirlpool motion--this gives the milk necessary texture. From here you’ll be able to detect whether or not it is 140 degrees.
Swirl milk in pitcher to smooth out textures. Hold the cup and the pitcher parallel and perpendicular to each other. You should hold the pitcher and the mug on the same horizontal plane (parallel). The nozzle of the pitcher should point straight through the center of the mug (perpendicular).
Pro Tip: Knock mug and pitcher against counter to remove bubbles and smooth the texture.
Tilt cup 20 degrees toward the pitcher. Begin pour with high, thin stream. The milk needs to penetrate beneath the surface of the espresso. Continue with a thin, high stream. You'll want to keep at this until your cup is about half-full. This builds a solid base for your art.
Pro Tip: Monitor the flow rate of the milk into the espresso. If it hits the espresso too forcefully the milk will “wash out” the espresso and your the design will be all bubbly.
Once half full, lower the spout of your pitcher so that it is very nearly touching the liquid (as close as you can). This will cause the milk to penetrate the crema. This close-to-the-liquid pouring creates a white dot in the drink.
Pro Tip: This white dot is the base of all latte art designs.
At this stage, go ahead and start to design your latte after creating your white dot. There are many designs out there, but we will give you the Tulip and Heart as these are two very common art styles.
Pull the pitcher away from the liquid for a second. Then, right behind the first white dot you just made, dive back into the liquid, create another white dot. Continue to do so. You could go on making little white dots but eventually the drink would overflow and spill everywhere, so finally, you'll make a heart out of your last white dot, and finish it off just like before: by raising your pitcher, and pulling through the middle of the design. This will make those white dots look like leaves.
Raise your pitcher and, just like at the beginning, finish the pour with a thin, high stream, cutting the design in half, creating symmetrical leaves.
To pour a heart, continue pouring into the center of this dot until drink is almost full. For added texture and a wider heart, slowly wiggle pitcher from side to side. When the cup is nearly full, raise your pitcher up and pour a thin, high stream once again (just like at the start). “Pull through” (towards the thumb of your mug hand) the design to sculpt the finish.
This isn’t easy, so you’ll need to practice a few times before you get it 100% right. Once you are able to nail it, it will be a highly rewarding and luxurious drinking experience.