Latte Art – The delicate art of making a cup of coffee LOOK as good as it tastes!
Latte art is the creative final step in the creation of a barista-prepared cup of coffee. Although I’ve always referred to it as Latte Art, it can quite often be found on other coffee-based beverages, such as your classic cappuccino.
It is created by carefully mixing the foam with espresso and creating a pattern or design on the surface of the latte. Alternatively, it can be created by skillfully drawing a pattern on top of the coffee in pure foam.
I’ve always been fascinated with latte art, for it is just as unique as the images created by artists with a pen, brush, or paintbrush. I look at the foam with great interest, watching as the barista extracts a hidden pattern or design that will – more often than not – be much more interesting than a mere wash of color.
I know that it is simply the simple joy of creating a beautiful cup of coffee that makes the latte art experience the most fun.
The Origins of Latte Art
The origins of latte art can be traced back to the early days of the espresso machine. Back then, a latte was made by essentially adding milk and then pushing the plunger to dispense a shot of espresso. Thus, it was very common to see a pattern of swirls and lines on the side of a traditional cappuccino.
Once the espresso latte became popular, the baristas created the simple straight line or swirl that is typically seen on espresso drinks today. One of the first attempts to draw a pattern on a latte was by a barista named James Mills, of Paris, France. Mills started drawing simple geometric designs in the foam on top of his coffee in 2006. These simple shapes are fairly easy to create on top of a latte, though there are some unique challenges when creating the wave patterns.
The development of latte art also spawned a lot of different latte art design ideas, ranging from simple forms to intricate designs, and the competition among espresso baristas has gotten much more intense in the past few decades.
There are a number of different shapes that are most commonly found in the art of latte art. The simplest and most widely known design is the waffle or pineapple. Another common shape is a heart, often combined with the American flag. But the usage of circles and triangles are by far the most popular shapes to use in latte art.
How To Create Latte Art
For an even more advanced look, you can use thick chocolate syrup or your drink of choice to draw your design. This is particularly useful for latte art creations that need to show a lot of detail.
To begin, add your coffee (or the hot drink of choice of your choice) to a glass mug, and begin adding your foam to the mug. I find it’s easier to mix the foam and espresso together rather than mixing the foam in a separate glass, which would help keep your decorating skills as sharp as possible.
The foam can be rinsed off when done, and then you can begin drawing with your finger or a pencil, making sure you let any excess foam get absorbed into the foam to save your decorating skills. The idea is to create a horizontal, spiral-like pattern.
The two most popular designs in the latte art world are The Rosetta (also referred to as The Fern), and The Heart. Many of these unique coffee creations build on those basic designs as their foundation.
At least as far as I understand.
I have never – in my entire life – tried to create latte art, and I will be very surprised if I ever tackle this particular skill. That is partly because I truly admire the skill and delicate hands that it takes to create some of these marvelous creations. And partly because I enjoy the mystery of how these magnificent coffee creations come to be.
Granted, it doesn’t take much to impress me, given that they are making art out of coffee and foam, but some of the patterns go well above and beyond the usual.
If you’re a coffee lover – like me – you will appreciate it when a cup of coffee looks as good as it tastes.
I have certainly not included EVERY fantastic latte art design ever created, that would take an entire blog all of it’s own. However, here are some of my favorite latte art creations, crafted by master baristas around the world.
54 Examples of Beautiful Latte Art
Those are just a few of the fun examples that I loved. It is certainly not an all-encompassing list, but it should be enough to fuel your creativity and stir your desire for a beautiful cup of coffee.
Looking for More Extraordinary Latte Art?
There are hundreds of examples to be found on Pinterest!
Think You Can Do Better?
If you’re an expert at the art of latte creation and have some beautiful designs that you think deserve a place in this hall of fame, contact us and let us know about your creation.
You might find yourself and your artistic latte creation featured in this gallery!