What is Latte art? As a popular coffee decoration that many coffee lovers are interested in with a white image design on coffee drinks, it is not uncommon to witness the action of baristas making Latte art which at first glance looks easy even though it requires a lot of techniques.

In the previous article, we discussed Flat White vs. Latte, and also touched a bit on Latte art. So, what is Latte art?

Latte art is one of the most recognizable symbols of coffee culture. The number of “photogenic” coffee posts on Instagram has been steadily increasing since 2015 and many of them feature the hashtag #latteart.

However, as many baristas know, Latte art is an endeavor that requires more than just an understanding of Latte like on social media. It takes skill and a lot of practice to master the skill of pouring and garnishing Latte over Espresso.

What is Latte art?

Latte art is a technique used by baristas to produce figures and shapes on the foam layer of Espresso-based Latte and Cappuccino . It is essentially an artistic, or more personalized way of making and serving coffee. The resulting image itself comes from the white microfoam and Espresso’s rich red-brown crema.

Microfoam is a textured form of steam milk, while crema is coffee cream brewed from coffee oil. Perfect symmetry, high contrast, and consistently created patterns are the hallmarks of a highly experienced barista.

When and where did Latte art come from?

History Latte art is closely related to the history of Espresso. Since its invention in Italy during the turn of the 20th century, Espresso and Espresso-based drinks have given way to the Latte known worldwide. While it is likely that Latte art has appeared in various countries, it does share a history with Espresso in Italy.

The rise in popularity comes from Seattle, thanks to David Schomer at his coffee shop, Espresso Vivace. In the late 1980s, Schomer began experimenting with Latte shapes, and by 1989, he had perfected a heart-shaped pattern based on images he saw of an Italian café called Caffè Mateki.

After perfecting his technique, Schomer opened a course called “Caffè Latte Art”. Latte art quickly spread in Seattle, then the rest of the US and the world. Today, Latte art has become a marker of an experienced and skilled barista, and is valued by consumers as a more personalized coffee experience.

Also read: Flat White vs Latte, What’s the Difference?

How is Latte art made?

Many may think that Latte art baristas only use ordinary teapots to produce good Latte art.

what is latte art
But that assumption is wrong, a barista needs a special teapot often called a milk jug.

To make Latte art, you need two things: an Espresso shot with good layers of crema and microfoam. There are two basic ways to do this:

  • Pouring microfoam milk into the Espresso shot while our hands make patterns or shake the pitcher to form ripple that makes an image or pattern.
  • Etching patterns or shapes directly onto unmixed microfoam and crema, with a coffee stirrer or special etching pen.

Just as a painter needs a brush, the milk jug is the barista’s “brush” to create interesting Latte art.

Latte art technique

There are two basic techniques to master when making Latte art, namely the milk frothing technique and the steamed milk technique.

A good espresso for Latte art has a thick enough texture (about 20 – 40 milliliters of espresso) so that it is strong enough to be used as a base for milk foam. Good frothed milk has a soft and silky texture and the resulting froth is small and smooth.

what is latte art
The main ingredients to make Latte art are Espresso and milk to be frothing.

A good latte art will show a flat, clear image, and no water streaks or milk tones so that there is a contrasting difference between the crema and milk foam. Latte art can last for 30 – 45 minutes.

When a special jug is used in the milk frothing process, there are three stages called stretching, rolling, and heating. The milk stretching stage is the condition for the foam formation process. The rolling stage where the foam formed will be refined into small bubbles. At the same time, the milk from the previous two stages isheated to a temperature of 50 – 55 degrees Celsius, which is considered ideal for Latte art.

After that, Latte art moves to the mixing stage, where frothed milk is poured into the Espresso without breaking the crema. Then proceed with the pouring technique, where the desired design pattern begins to take shape while pouring the frothed milk.

Also read: Piccolo Latte, the Little One You Must Try!

Latte art championship

Latte art is not just about drawing pictures on coffee, but it has become an arena for competitions, such as the Barista Championship. In fact, Latte art is now a serious thing in the coffee world. Baristas are professionally trained to make specific types of coffee and image forms of Latte. The participants made Latte art to compete in the Latte Art Championship.

Latte art painting

Latte art itself is divided into three types, namely 3D Latte art, etching, and free pour. The method of making Latte art is different for all three. 3D Latte art creates embossed Latte art. Etching with food coloring or chocolate and caramel to paint over milk foam. Free pouring describes this design of pouring milk over Espresso.

The 3D Latte art trend is not new to the coffee industry, and it’s still debatable, but at the end of the day, every coffee dish has its fans.

Of the three types of Latte art , free pour is the basic Latte art technique before 3D Latte art and etching. The tools needed for free pour are an Espresso machine, Espresso cup, and jug. The tip of the jug greatly influences how much and how patterned the milk design is.


The popularity of Latte art among coffee lovers to ordinary people, which makes baristas at least need to master the basic techniques of Latte art, there are even many special courses to learn Latte art that have spread everywhere. If you want to learn by yourself, you can also use the internet or YouTube channels.

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