You’ve got to just go for it. You’ve got to make your art. With the right tools, mastery of skills, high creativity quotient, and patience - you can create a masterpiece
True art, today, can be found in a lot of creative places — at an art gallery, in a museum, at an art exhibition, on the wall of an eatery, on your plate and if you were to look closely definitely in your daily cuppa. We’ve all admired this one, haven’t we? The gorgeous designs on our cups of lattes, cappuccinos, et al. The art made using milk, cream and espresso is called latte art. From simple swishes to hearts, rosettas and other designs, it’s as delectable as artistic expression can get.
The rise and love for latte art
The art, foremost, consists of raw materials such as espresso, milk, sugar and a special instrument to create beautiful designs. When did coffee art become a thing and why? “Latte art gained popularity in the third wave of coffee, where people were more focused on understanding the origin of coffee. This new wave of coffee focused on fair trade, sustainability, etc. and paid attention to the process from bean to cup. Latte art was a form of presentation to appreciate the coffee being served,” said Kong Kwan, a certified barista, who is the person responsible for looking after Intellect’s (UAE’s homegrown coffee brand) café-on-wheels. “For me, it’s always been a thing from when I started working with coffee. But the origin of latte art stems from the US where this was first implemented in the late 80s,” said Arnold Odog, the head barista, Ella’s Eatery, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. “It was developed in Seattle in the 80s and 90s, to improve the taste of coffee with the combination of espresso, cream and microfoam,” said Carlos, the head barista, Jones the Grocer, Al Manara, Dubai. His top three favourite art forms are a heart, a rosetta, and a tulip.
The top three most common art forms on a cuppa include the heart, rosetta and swan. You need to practice the art to be perfect and make sure you have the right ingredients and tools, from good milk to a good frother.
Arnold Odog, head barista, Ella’s Eatery, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai
Can I try latte art at home?
This art form belongs to everyone, don’t be afraid to try and create your very own masterpiece. “You absolutely can try it out, however, you will need a coffee frother, either one that is part of your machine or a manual portable one, both will do! And the right kind of milk is important too, a full-fat milk is usually best to use as it will help with the glossy finish,” said Arnold. “Steaming the perfect silky, velvety and glossy milk. The consistency of the milk makes all the difference and nut milk types are not the best for latte art. Once you get the milk right, any artwork is possible,” advised Kong. “You may use a French press to make a froth or microfoam but first, you have to heat your milk then transfer it to a French press and pump to create a microfoam/froth,” said Carlos. He added, “Well, the trick is making sure the milk is perfectly steamed and at the right consistency to create simple art but keeping the perfect taste of your coffee.”
Heart, tulip and rosetta lead in popularity. Nobody gets it right the first time and most people give up too soon, don’t do that! There are plenty of videos online and social media accounts targeted towards beginners; explore those.
Kong Kwan, a certified barista, Intellect, a homegrown coffee brand
What is the trick to latte art?
Here are the five steps to follow:
>> Make sure the milk is heated to 55-60 °
>> Swig the jug around carefully until the milk has become glossy and shiny, only then is it ready for pouring
>> Start pouring the milk right at the centre of the coffee
>> Swirl the milk in a round motion at the same time whilst pouring it
>> Make sure you know ahead of time what the final design will be freestyling doesn’t really work!
(As told by Arnold Odog, head barista, Ella’s Eatery, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai)