January 20, 2012

The Secret to Making Latte Art

I am far from the best latte artist. Truthfully, I do not even consider myself good, except that I can do latte art at all. This seems to impress a number of people, who have never seen better. The conversation usually starts with a smile, a slight gasp, and a question: How did you do that?

I used to explain the technique. I used to mime the action of tilting the cup, pouring the milk, all the while explaining that this would only be possible with good milk, and a rich layer of crema to pour in to. Sometimes, if they had worked at a coffee bar before, this would make some sense to them. If they had not, it would accomplish nothing, except make the whole thing seem more alien.

I have a better answer now: Practice.

Perhaps it sounds dismissive, or protective of some industry secret. But it's simply true.

There is no technique one can adopt to become a prolific basketball player. But one can shoot a lot, and increase their odds. Which is not to say that technique doesn't matter; just that technique, unrefined and untempered, won't produce optimal results.

So if you want to make latte art, make latte art. Practice pouring it on every drink, even those without crema. (When you can get a rosetta to appear on a chai latte, you'll know you're getting somewhere.) Practice pouring it whether you're using soy, skim, whole, or half and half. Practice whether you're going to cover the drink with whipped cream and syrup.

There are enough technique guides, videos, and how-to's already. Pick a style that seems to work for you, and then change it as dictated by results. Or simply start from scratch.

But mainly, start.

Everything is practice - Pele

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