Want to know how to do latte art? Looking for tips on how to pour your milk to create beautiful coffee art? Read our guide to coffee art at home from UK latte art champion Dhan Tamang. A barista's guide to which equipment you need for latte art, how to pour and steam milk correctly for coffee art and where to get your cappuccino art inspiration. Next, read renowned barista Celeste Wong's guide to becoming an overnight coffee expert.
Buy Dhan's book, Coffee Art: Creative Coffee Designs for the Home Barista, here, for more latte art tips.
How did you first get into latte art?
I was in Kuwait when I first started making coffee in an American army base camp. At first, I was just serving ordinary coffee – I hadn’t heard of latte art and didn’t know what it was. Then, one day it struck me that it’d be really cool if you could create art in coffee using milk. I turned to Google and luckily there were a few latte art materials online, including some tutorial videos on YouTube. I used these to teach myself the basic techniques.
What are the essentials you need to have in place before you start your latte art?
In order to create latte art, you need the basics – milk, espresso and a good pouring style and technique.
Place your pitcher in the refrigerator so it’s nice and cold. A cold pitcher will give you more time steaming your milk, decreasing your chances of scalding it. It also makes the cream stiffer and easy to handle. Try to refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes before use
Ensure that the milk is fresh, and only use full fat milk. Milk should be stretched to around 35-40°C and steamed no more than 65-70°C. Milk should be smooth, silky, creamy and velvety to crate latte art.
Ensure the espresso is fresh and has a good thick, strong layer of crema. A well-pulled espresso is a key component. Check out our coffee expert Celeste Wong's guide to the best espresso coffee pods, as well as our pick of the best espresso machines.
Do you need an espresso coffee machine to do latte art?
No. The beauty of latte art is that in can be created without expensive and fancy equipment!
The way to do this is by using strong brewed coffee either from an aeropress, filter coffee (French press) or chocolate powder instead of espresso. Then, steam the milk in a microwave or use a milk frother.
Is there a certain type of coffee bean that works best for latte art?
Lighter roast coffee is easier and best for latte art from my personal experience. Check out Celeste Wong's guide to the best coffee beans.
What’s the best type of milk to use for coffee art?
Milk from a Jersey cow works best if it’s organic and unhomogenized. It is perfect for adding texture and is richer tasting.
How do you steam milk for latte art? What temperature should it be?
The process of steaming milk involves two things – creating form by introducing air and heating the milk. You can also use a milk frother, we have found the best here.
Milk frothing technique for coffee art
- Fill the pitcher with milk half way up until the surface of the milk hits the bottom of the jug spout.
- Turn on and purge the steam wand for few seconds, this helps to remove any standing water left in the arm.
- Place the tip of the steam wand just under the surface of the milk and turn on steam. This process creates the microform by introducing the air gently into the milk.
- Submerge the steam wand another half a centimetre below the milk and raise it up to the point where you can hear a couple of hisses. If you hear a high pitched then you have found the sweet spot, it will start sound like splattering then you have it too far or high and no sound at all reflect you are too low.
Milk texturing for coffee art
- Switch to texturing the milk, once the milk temperature reaches to 40 to 45 degrees.
- Tilt the jug a little to get perfect whirlpool. This spinning process mixes the micro foam with the milk to polish the milk.
- Once the milk temperature reaches between 65 to 70 degrees, turn off the steam wand and wipe with a wet cloth.
- Give the bottom of the jug a firm tap on the counter to disperse any large surface bubbles. Before pouring, swirl the milk around the jug to polish the milk and to ensure the micro foam and milk is mixed together.
How should you pour the milk? From high or close to the cup?
- Begin with the pour a little high – hold the pitcher about 3cm above the cup, pour the milk into the centre of crema, and pour steadily and slowly.
- Lower the pour close to the crema once the cup is about half full and the foam should appear. Go from high to low and pour with a steady speed
Does it make a difference if you pour the milk fast or slow?
Start high and slow, then bring it down closer to the cup. Once the pitcher is close and lowest point in the cup increase the flow.
Top tip: balance is key.
- Too slow: the milk becomes too frothy to work with.
- Too fast: this will interrupt and even collapse crema on the espresso.
What tips do you have for gaining better control when pouring?
Find your comfort zone when holdings both cups and pitchers and find the perfect jug that works for you.
What’s the best latte art design to start with if you’re a novice?
A heart – a simple pattern for a beginner.
Which latte art shapes do you find yourself pouring most often?
Most often I pour tulips, or a rosetta, inverted tulip when I work in the café.
Can you recommend any online resources for learning how to do latte art?
There are some great websites: Latteartguide.com, perfectdailygrind.com, coffeescience.org etc. and there are several videos on YouTube for learning latte art online.
Beside this, offline you can buy my Coffee Art book and learn from there.
Are there any latte art stencils and patterns stencils we can use and find online?
Yes. There are resourceful pattern stencils available to purchase online such as on amazon, ebay, nisbets, A1coffee, coffee stencils, etc.
Want to learn more about becoming an expert at-home barista? Read our guides here:
Celeste Wong's guide to becoming an overnight coffee expert
Celeste Wong's best moka pots
Celeste Wong's best coffee grinders
Celeste Wong's best decaf coffee to try
Celeste Wong's best reusable and compostable espresso pods
Celeste Wong's best gooseneck kettles to try
Best coffee subscriptions to try
Best coffee pod machines
Best bean-to-cup coffee machines
Best espresso machines