A guide to Latte Art – Free Pour
You need cold and fresh milk. Most people prefer full fat milk for Latte Art but it is really up to you, if you use a right technique then it doesn’t make too much difference. Just make sure that the milk is fresh and straight out of the fridge. Do not expose it to heat or light before you steam it.
Never use the same milk again when you are working on Latte Art.
Use a stainless steel jug with a narrow spout. Make sure that the jug is cold and clean before use. Fill up the jug with enough milk for your cup and make sure that you have enough milk so you have time to texture the milk. Too less milk will cause the milk to heat up too quick so a little bit more milk is better. Do not worry about the wastage too much.
Use a thermometer that has a clip to attach to the jug. The thermometer should have a good size so you can easily read it. Make sure that the thermometer is adjusted right, you can do this by putting it in ice water and correcting the dial. Usually you can adjust the dial with a screw in the back. The best way to adjust your thermometer is to compare it with a digital probe. Do not place the thermometer in the dishwasher, the moisture will break your thermometer. It is also possible to judge the temperature of the milk by touch.
Always make sure that you turn the steam on all the way. Purge the steam wand before use. This will clean it from any condensation. Do not turn the steam wand on before you insert it into the milk. Your steam should have a pressure of around 1 bar, the pressure is related to the temperature of the boiler. The more holes the steam tip has, the more steam power.
The espresso is just as important as the milk. Make sure that the espresso is fresh and has a good thick and strong layer of crema. It becomes very difficult to create good Latte Art without good crema on your espresso.
It is probably easiest to use 1 oz of espresso in a 6-8 ounce cup. Use a cup that has a wide surface area to work with, usually a low cup with a large wide diameter.
Start with the steam wand inside the milk. Turn on the steam completely. Hold the jug with two hands. Slowly lower the jug until the tip of the steam wand breaches the surface of the milk. You should hear a sh-sh-sh sound (high chirping sound). Do this for only a few seconds, this is when you are forcing the bubbles in to the milk to create foam, it is called foaming or stretching. Be very careful when you lower the jug, you should not see any bubbles being formed. You should hear the foam being created but you should not see it. You only need to foam for a few seconds, do not make the mistake to foam too much. Do not foam over 40 degrees Celsius or 100 Fahrenheit.
Once you have enough foam insert the steam wand deeper into the milk. There is no need to move the jug up and down. You should have a whirlpool inside the jug, you are now texturing the milk. The milk is now twirling inside the jug and any bubbles that might be present will dissolve into the milk. Once you have reached about 60 to 65 degrees Celsius turn off the steam. Then take out the steam wand and clean it with a clean cloth.
Put the jug down with a slight tap on the work top. This will destroy any tiny bubbles that might have been visible on the surface. You should not have any more bubbles visible after this. If you do then you can gently tap the jug a few times on the counter to get rid of them. However, tapping the jug on the counter makes the foam thicker and is not advisable. If you foam and steam the milk with the right technique then you should not have to tap the jug on the counter.
Pour the milk as soon as possible. This is very important because the foam will start separating very quickly. Spin the milk around just before you pour to make sure that all the foam is mixed with the milk.
Pouring The Milk
We suggest that you steam the milk whilst the espresso is being brewed.
Start with the pour a little high. Once the cup is about half full lower the pour close to the crema and the foam should appear. Go from high to low and pour with a steady speed.
You should pour the milk as soon as possible. Hold the cup on it’s ear and slightly at an angle. Start pouring the milk slowly in to the crema. You do not want to pour to slowly, this will leave the foam behind in the jug. You also do not want to pour too quick because this will break the crema apart. Pour slowly in a few spots in the cup to break through the crema.
Start pouring the milk in to the back of the cup once the cup seems just more than half full. Now slowly but very steady move the pitcher from side to side. This is a wrist movement and should be done just slightly. The milk should not swing from side to side in the jug. Keep moving it side to side in one spot in the cup until you see the foam appearing. If you see this happening than you have cracked it!
Once you see the foam break through the crema you can start pouring patterns.
Rosetta / Leaf
Move the jug side to side until you see the foam appearing on the surface. Keep moving the jug side to side until you see a pattern appear. Now slowly move the jug backwards whilst still moving it side to side. When you have reached the end of the cup move the jug in a quick straight line through the pattern.
Quick movements from side to side will create a rosetta with lots of leafs. Slow movements from side to side will create less and thick leaves.
Move the jug side to side in one spot in the cup. Keep doing this until you get a big circle of crema. Slightly move the jug forward just a bit. Then keep pouring the milk on the big spot of foam until the cup is almost full. Finally move the jug in a quick straight line forward to finish of your heart.
Time To Practise
I have never met anybody who does Latte Art the first go. So don’t worry if you can’t do it straight away. It takes quite a bit of practise but if you stick to the right rules anybody can do it! Have fun!