Don’t you just love it when you order a cappuccino/macchiato/latte in a Coffee shop, and you watch the barista behind the espresso machine creating a Heart, Rosetta, or a Tulip on top of your drink?
Watching them creating these shapes in few seconds, makes it look so easy!! But we all know it is not, and needs lots of training, expensive equipments and maybe Batista courses!
But… wouldn’t it be cool, if you could just do it at home?
Yes…. yes, this is a photo for my home-made cappuccino and I do not have an espresso machine. In this post and perhaps another one (coming), I will try my best to tell you how to create latte art without an espresso machine (steamer)!
Before we jump into How to create latte art, first I want to talk about Why? Why we want to do latte art?
Yes, I agree that a cappuccino with a heart on top does not necessarily mean it tastes good (although it tells you a lot about the taste). But, a “Good latte art is important because it gives people the impression that you’ve (the barista) put time and effort into it and that you (the barista) respect the coffee and the customer,” said Izzy Gualtieri, a barista from Bang Espresso, Australia.
I add to that a middleastren proverb that says “The eye eats before the mouth”, come to think about it, it is true!
ahhh.. cut the crap! the real reason is that: It is cool if we can
Now, the first thing you need for latte art is not the espresso shot and not the pouring skill, it is the Microfoam milk. note: this doesn’t include freepour latte art. But you will create the necessary surface in which you can draw on, so called Etching! Yet of course, creating Microfoam milk is a necessary condition for freepour latte art but not sufficient.
I was always fascinated by latte art, And really wanted to learn how to do it,… but I’ve always thought to do so I will need at least one of these:
- Take coffee Barista workshops, Which is expensive in terms of money and time.
- Work in an espresso bar. I would love to, but I am busy with my studies
- Buy a fancy good espresso machine. Something I was always hesitant to do, for many reasons, 1) i do not like to have lots of appliances at home 2) If I am to buy one, I wanted to get a really good one, and with the reviews I read, I got the impression that a good espresso machine that will give me an espresso shot like those in good espresso bars costs thousands, and most importantly 3) I wanted to reserve the excuse to go out and sit in coffee shops
I add to that, some discouraging comments i read on few coffee blogs/websites saying that you cannot create the necessary microfoam without a steamer (i.e., espresso machine).
So I didn’t even try, … Last year, I posted about how to make layered cappuccino, and that was the best I could do.
Until… I found カップッチョ, a Japanese blogger who have shown that you can do professional latte art without Espresso machine, without a stainless steel pitcher, even without an espresso shot (that will just taste different)
カップッチョ was my inspiration to start my latte art self training. Thank you
Throughout this year, my home made cappuccino have raised to another level, taste-wise, and look-wise, and guess what? using the exact same equipment (total cost <50$ this includes: on-stove espresso maker, pitcher, coffee grinder, milk frother stick, and coffee beans!).
To create microfoam milk, you will need:
- 1 cup of 2% milk, put it in a microwave-safe glass (I use a measuring glass pitcher)
- A milk frother, do not get the one from IKEA it has a very thin stick and it shakes a lot while rotating
- Stainless Steel Pitcher, .. you don’t even need that according to カップッチョ
Steps and tips:
- Heating to the right temperature:
- We need to heat the milk before frothing it. This is different from using a steamer (espresso machine). When using a steamer, cold milk is used and you do the frothing and the heating together.
- Too hot, the milk won’t foam, too cold does not taste right and becomes very foamy. The right temperature is something between 60-70°C. You may want to purchase a thermometer, but you can also do without (I do not use mine), by trial and error.
- Using a microwave: First heat the milk for 50seconds, wait for 3 minutes, then heat for 20 seconds, wait 3 minutes, then heat for another 20 seconds, wait for 3 minutes and heat for a last 20 seconds. I do this, because I start heating the milk once I put my on-stove espresso maker, and want to get the milk heated once the espresso is done, which takes about 10-12 minutes
- Put half of the heated milk in the steel pitcher.
- Hold the pitcher with your left hand and tilt it towards your right hand, while keeping the inner edge of the pitcher standing on the table (this is just so you don’t get tired).
- Hold your frother with your right hand, put it inside the pitcher and deep in the milk (just before touching the bottom of the pitcher).
- Turn on your frother, (a hole will be created in the milk at the beginning and you can see the frother’s head, this means air is entering). This should last only for a few seconds (around 5sec).
- Tilt your frother slightly, so that the milk swirls (now you can’t see the head of your frother anymore, and the hole disappears).
- Notice how the bubbles starts disappearing.
- Froth until all bubbles disappear (if few bubbles remain it is fine, you can tap the pitcher on the counter coupla times and they will disappear)
You’re done! Now you have your silky microfoam milk.
If it didn’t work in the first time, it is fine, it didn’t with me. This needs a lot of practice, and a lot of patience, do not give up you will get there, It took a while. Here’s a video by カップッチョ on how to get microfoam with a frother
Once you have successfully created microfoam, you can start pouring your frothed milk into your espresso shot (you can use an on-stove espresso maker as I mentioned in my previous post).
- When you start pouring, pour from a distance (~15cm high from the cup), this will make the frothed milk drop below the espresso, gets colored by the espresso and then floats on top it. This is what creates the espresso colored surface.
- After the surface has been created, lower your hand (to ~3cm) and you will see the white foam starting to show.
Both the white and espresso-colored foam will become one surface, if it didn’t, means your foam is too thick.
Tip: once you finish frothing the milk, pour it immediately, waiting will make the foam separate from the milk (this is why you see baristas circling their pitcher during the time between the frothing and the pouring, so as to prevent this separation). The speed of pouring, not too slow, not too fast.
- Use a tooth pick, coco powder/syrup, and your creativity! and have Fun
Those are few of the shapes I could create after successfully creating microfoam! check the soot ball latte art (in the lower left corner). I love this character in Spirited Away
To be honest, this was my way of covering failed attempts. What I was actually trying is free-pour Heart-latte art. But I think that was a good way to provide the enough patience while I practice. But I got there. I will talk about free-pour latte art in a later post, stay tuned