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Henry’s Coffee and Events – Latte art

If you have had an instagram account for more than 2 hours or are a coffee aficionado, you must have come across latte art before. Beautiful lattes adorned with intricate designs have taken over the coffee world and the most talented baristas around the world rival with imagination to create the most  beautiful pieces. In this article, we will tell you all you need to know about latte art so you can finally take part in the trend.

What is latte art?

Latte art is the technique of creating a pattern or design on the surface of a coffee. It is achieved by pouring micro-foam into an espresso shot in a way that will create a pattern or design on the surface of the coffee. By simply “drawing” in the top layer of foam, it is possible to create intricate designs.

A lot of skill is involved in creating consistent latte art because of the stringent requirements that must be met by both the espresso shot and the milk used.  These limitations are further imposed by the barista’s knowledge and skill, as well as the quality of the espresso equipment used. The actual pouring of the latte becomes the final difficulty for the latte artist. 

Despite its name, latte art is not restricted to lattes. It can be done on any drink that features milk foam, including cappuccinos and hot chocolates.

Latte art can be referred to by a variety of names, including coffee art, barista art, and coffee designs.

A little history of latte art

Following the introduction of espresso and the development of microfoam, latte art developed independently in different countries.

Coffee was first turned into art a few decades ago in Italy, the birthplace of the popular milk-based espresso drinks, but it was American coffee shops that established latte art as a mainstream phenomenon. Cups of coffee decorated with patterns first became popular in Seattle (United States) in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In the early 2000s, latte art made its way to Australia and the Scandinavian countries. In today’s globe, Asia is experiencing the most rapid growth, with Asian baristas performing particularly well at international competitions for latte art.

How does it work?

This might be surprising but a gorgeous latte adorned with a swan is the result of a complicated mix of art and science.

Indeed, there are tight rules to follow to obtain the perfect coffee and foam consistency. To summarise, almost everything lies in the foam.

The milk chosen needs to be steamed/frothed. Most barista coffee machines have a special attachment that allows for this. (If you are doing it at home, you can do it with a frothing tool.)

To obtain the best foam, the milk chosen must contain a certain amount of protein and fat in order to produce a foam with the consistency of melted ice cream. This is because it will allow easier drawing and keep the design as crisp as possible for as long as possible. 

Steamed milk will stay stabilised only for a few minutes. So it needs to be used rather quickly to obtain the best design.

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