Most baristas seem to think that latte art is a walk in the park. It isn’t, and while the skills required are basic, to use them correctly is the tricky part. Repeated failures behind the machine can be demoralising, so we’ve put together the top five mistakes that baristas make when doing latte art to ensure that your coffee looks good and tastes better.
BADLY FOAMED MILK
First things first – make sure your milk is up to scratch. Your milk could be too bubbly and not foamed enough, not foamed at all or too thick. The milk is key to the art, so it is essential to master the art of milk prep before anything else.
POURING TOO HIGH
Start pouring the milk about five centimetres above the cup, before bringing it down. Pouring foam from too high will disrupt the crema of the espresso, which will make it harder to make an effective design. Start high and slow, then bring it down low!
POURING TOO FAST
A fast pour is not a good pour. Like before, a sudden rush of liquid will disrupt the crema on the espresso, which needs to remain intact to act as a canvas upon which the foam art will sit. The broken surface and dark flecks will have an impact on the final image. Furthermore, if you fill the cup too fast, you’ll be rushed to finish the design before the cup fills up.
TOO MUCH ARM
While as little movement as possible is ideal while making the initial milk pour, when it comes to the making of the design, movement must be smooth and gentle. A common mistake is too much arm movement. The cup and pitcher should be moved with the wrists only, as more delicate movements will make it easier to maintain consistency.
No one is born a great latte artist, and milk is hardly a medium you learn in primary school art class. However, the core skills are quite basic – co-ordination, a steady hand and an eye for detail – even if you are using one liquid as a canvas for another liquid. When learning, try not to wiggle the pitcher at all. Focus on maintaining the speed, angle and height of your pour. Leave designs until later. Mastering the basics first will give you the confidence to be more ambitious in future!
Do you fancy yourself a free-pour Picasso or a hot-beverage Banksy? Foodfirst and Restaurant & Cafe present Vitasoy Espress Yourself, so just upload your picture to Instagram, tag @restaurantandcafenz and use the hashtag #espressyourselfnz to be in to win your share of $10,000 cash! Find out more here.