At the end of 2017, I took on a new goal and decided to try and teach myself how to make latte art, aspire to be a self-taught barista and wherever that road may lead to… then quickly realizing, I’m not a very good latte art teacher…
Am I a coffee-person? No, not really. I still don’t know what type of coffee tastes good. I get a buzz and that’s about it. However, I like art. I like testing myself. I like trying to push my creative boundaries and apply previous life experiences to tackle new problems.
I think it’s important to be learning new things as much as possible. But more than that, for me it’s about being able to measure my personal learning and growth, and having fun while doing it.
Was the milk too hot?
Did I use enough milk?
How deep do I put the tip into the pitcher?
Was that effective?
How fast do I pour the milk?
How high/low do I pour it from?
There were so many elements to measure simultaneously, and everything happens so quickly! Fortunately, I received support from a lot of people who’d ventured into the latte art journey before – the vets, and people who laughed with me through my Instagram stories and FB timeline takeovers to make the experience less painful.
If you’re here to see inspiring latte art, sadly you’ll be disappointed. Instead, I offer a mixture of coffee comedy – a mashup of latte art gone bad, and incidental cafe au lait.
This was my first attempt. It was supposed to be a heart? I made a full moon with some dimples. Not bad.
I don’t know how to make sense of this one. There was an eclipse.
Positive thinking: the cup is half full..
Adding to my astronomically inspired pours, this one had some fine bubbles in it.
Then out of nowhere this beauty appeared. Here’s what I learned from my past attempts.
The milk temperature is important, and just hot enough where you can’t hold it anymore. Next is pouring from a higher distance from the cup and angled, that way the foam sinks to the bottom, and leaving the crema canvas ready for art. It’s hard to be prepared for the pour when you’ve never experienced it before. Being excited at how the milk was forming into perceptible shapes, I didn’t know how to complete the pour.
The milk is too foamy. Lesson learned: only dip the tip, and not deep into the milk when steaming the pitcher. The correct sound should be a gentle hiss, rather than a violent steaming cry. When the milk gets to the right temperature, the volume of the hiss gets a bit louder and is a sign to turn of the wand. I title this, “After the Snowball Fight”.
Fam, we’ve got a heart! Getting to here was the first step to identifying on how to make it better. For example, the crema is bubbly and not a clear canvas. I really want to make it look more warm and coffee colour, and not the milky texture. After pouring a layer of milk inside, I found it easier to control the pour by bringing the pitcher closer to the mug.
At least I filled the cup. Milk was way toooo foamy.
I slumped and couldn’t consistently create the right milk texture. I got ahead of myself and lost focus on measuring the details. I was either steaming the milk too much or pouring it too close to the cup.
More snowball fights and foamy milk. It was more like a capuccino.
Still working on pouring at the right speed and amount. The last one in this series had a fine texture to it, but not the aesthetic I was looking for.
It’s like I’m taking 3 steps forward, then 5 steps back. Then put my left hand in, then I put my left hand out. Then back in, and shake it all about….
After the New Year break, I lost it! Repetitive meaning practice is the key!
Getting closer to the fine milky texture and volume of foam. I think that second one needs to be mosaic-ed.
This is the moment of recognizing progress. A good feeling, but momentarily. As you can see this is not my end goal.
I’ve plateaued out and struggling with the perfect pour, and crafting the right balance of crema and milk foam. You’ll still see me trying on my instagram stories (@i.am.galileo) every now and then but to wrap it up: latte art is very difficult (for me?), as all art forms are, and I definitely recommend people to have a try. I had a lot of fun trying to learn the art and made friends along the way.