Making good coffee is an art and there are many details that need to be taken into consideration if you want a quality result. When it comes to making a good latte art there are two aspects that you need to consider: the type of espresso machine that you are using and the type of milk that you will incorporate into your espresso to transform it into a delicious latte.
Knowing how to texture milk for latte art is essential and there are certain steps that you can follow if you want to succeed in this process. Technology will help you also and having the best machines is a great advantage if you want to obtain an incredible latte.
Best espresso machines for latte art
Semi-automatic espresso machines are the most popular when it comes to latte art making. These espresso machines offer the user almost complete control over their coffee and milk. And when it comes to latte art making, skills and techniques are highly important.
When you use a semi-automatic, manually frothing is the key to an incredible latte art but also the type of steam wand that you are using is just as important. The steam wand is the part of your espresso machine that is used to steam the milk, also known as a steam pipe.
Most semi-automatic espresso machines come with a traditional steam wand that requires you to steam the milk manually and have control over the foam. When you use the steam wand manually the main trick you need to consider is to allow enough air into the milk to create a microfoam. Professional manual wands, need a lot more experience to use but they produce a great quality microfoam and an incredible latte art.
Some semi-automatic espresso machines come with a Panarello wand that injects air into the milk which makes the frothing easier.
You can use several types or wands such as plastic Panarello wand, chrome Panarello wand or latte art Panarello wand. They all get the job done but there are differences that might make you prefer one or the other.
For instance, the latte art Panarello wand can be converted into a manual steam wand by simply removing the outer sleeve. Pannarello wands might be easier to use but the final latte art is not as professional as the one obtained by using a traditional wand. Since when you use a Panarello wand you have less control, you will not be able to intervene in order to obtain better results, but you don’t need much experience to use such a wand either.
When it comes to entry-level espresso machines, they usually come with a cheaper model of wands and their steaming process is not so professional therefore the results are not as good. They are great for making espresso and other brews but not necessarily for the latte art. Wands that come with entry level espresso machines can be traditional or Panarello but the machines don’t produce enough steam as the prosumer or semi-commercial ones.
A prosumer espresso machine is just what you need to obtain a good latte art. These espresso machines are copying the skills of the professional ones used in bars and coffee shops. But they are more affordable and easier to use.
You will have to use a steam wand that you will introduce into your pitcher after you poured the cold milk in it. Steam it until you feel the pitcher getting warm and the milk has a thick consistency. After that, all you have to do is pour your milk over your expresso and create a little pattern while you are handling your milk pitcher. With experience, you will get better and better at this.
How to choose the best latte art espresso machine
When choosing an espresso machine for latte art making, the quality of the wand is very important. As a beginner, you can choose a Panarello wand since it is easier to use but if you are past the beginner phase and you want professional results, the manual wands are a lot better.
When it comes to semi-automatic espresso machines and prosumer machines you can choose between single boiler ones and dual boiler ones. The main difference is that with dual boiler machines you can steam milk and brew espresso at the same time, which you can’t do with a single boiler espresso machine. Prosumers are great when it comes to temperature stability and they work just as fine with one boiler.
However, the quality of the boiler is also very important when you choose an espresso machine. Smaller boilers can do an okay job but they will provide you with less quality latte art than the bigger boilers.
Baristas secrets for an incredible latte art
Baristas tend to upgrade their skills constantly to maintain their ability to create a great looking and delicious latte art. But they do have some tricks that they know which help them create an appealing latte art cup that keeps the clients asking for more.
And the secret is in the microfoam! So, let’s look at some of the best ways to create a fabulous microfoam for your latte art!
#1. Use quality milk
The most important element when it comes to latte art is the milk. Your best starting point is to choose a quality milk and use it while it is fresh. The temperature of the milk is also important and it has to be as cold as possible, around 4 or 5 degrees Celsius would be ideal but make sure it is not frozen.
A milk thermometer will help you keep the temperature after control and ease your job a lot so might be a good idea to use one.
When it comes to the type of milk that you can use, your options are skimmed, semi-skimmed, full fat or plant milk. You can use any of them but depends a lot on the result that you are looking for.
Fat milk will give you a thicker foam with a creamier consistency while skimmed and semi-skimmed milk will increase the foam quantity and will add some air bubble to it, which can be decorative and very pleasant
#2. Steaming the milk
When you start the steaming process spin the milk fast for one minute then focus on spinning the surface of the milk for around 15 seconds. You can do this by using a standard steam wand or a Panarello steam wand. After you’ve steamed the surface of the milk, dive the steam wand all the way into your milk pitcher and steam for another 15 seconds.
You can check the milk’s temperature by touching the pitcher. When it gets warmer without being hot it is a good sign that your milk reached the right temperature as well. It takes some experience to “feel” the right temperature and for more repeatable results I’d recommend using a thermometer.
#3. Incorporate the milk into your espresso
Before you add the milk over your expresso, tap the pitcher on the hard surface like the surface of your table or counter. This will help settle the milk and will push any air bubble inside of it to the surface. Also, roll the milk around the pitcher slowly so you don’t spill it, in order to mix the foam with the milk the right way. Your milk should now have a shiny and smooth surface that has no visible air bubbles.
When you’ve reached this kind of consistency, you are ready to pour your milk over your espresso and create your favorite pattern. To create a pattern, change the distance from which you pour the milk while you are pouring it.
Start by holding your milk pitcher right above your espresso mug and end up by pouring it from a higher distance. This will end up in a great foam pattern that will just make you proud!
Now you can say that you know how to texture milk for latte art and all you have left to do is put these steps in practice. Don’t forget to use quality milk and a quality espresso machine for best results.
Even if this is a task for experienced baristas, you can be sure that it is something that you can also learn to do, just like any other professional by simply paying attention to the details above. Enjoy your latte art!
P.S. Below you’ll find a great video explaining in detail texturing milk for latte art 🙂