Coffee based drinks have seen a massive boost in recent history. England has well and truly embraced coffee culture. With this rise of coffee culture, cafes have started offering more and more drink variations. All your London high street chains and independent coffee shops are now offering espresso-based coffee drinks. This includes macchiatos and affogatos alongside your bog standard americanos. Therefore, barista training in London is more important than ever for any cafe.
What is Latte Art?
So what exactly is latte art? There is a real method to the pattern that appears on top of your coffee. Latte art is a method of preparing coffee with patterns on the top created with microfoam milk. This type of milk is essential to the process. Microfoam is milk foamed using a steam wand on an espresso machine, used for making espresso-based coffee drinks and is primarily used for latte art. This microfoam milk is then poured into the drink and with the right techniques, can result in a pattern or design on the surface of the drink. This is often a heart but it can be a variety of shapes.
The History of Latte Art
You would assume that latte art originates in Italy, the home of coffee, but you’d be wrong. The technique was popularised in Seattle during the 1980s and 1990s, and it was particularly popularised by David Schomer. As mentioned before, microfoam milk is what makes latte art possible. Therefore, we should examine when exactly this became popular as well to fully understand the history of latte art.
We can trace back the development of microfoam (“velvet foam” or “milk texturing”) to Jack Kelly of Uptown espresso in 1986. Once this was established, Schomer was able to experiment with latte art. By 1989 the heart pattern was established and a signature at Schomer’s cafe, Espresso Vivace.
Following this, the rosette pattern was then developed by Schomer in 1992. He states he was recreating the technique based on a photograph he saw from Cafe Mateki in Italy. Of course, all coffee roads lead back to Italy in some shape or form.
What Drinks are Best for Latte Art
The key is in the name, lattes are where the technique originated and where it is most prevalent today. The latte is a classic staple of coffee in western culture. This is partly because many people’s palates aren’t used to the taste of coffee so they need milk to balance it out.
As mentioned before, the latte is the most typical drink where latte art is carried out but there are other milk-based coffees too. You cannot really pour latte art on a traditional cappuccino but you can on a “wet” cappuccino. A dry cappuccino has much more foam whereas a wet cappuccino has less foam and more milk. This is much similar to its latte brother which makes the technique much easier to apply. Latte art can also be made even in a small Cortado.
Part of the reason why latte art has become more popular in the UK in the last 10 years is because of the rise in popularity of the flat white. The flat white is in some ways comparable to a latte, but smaller in volume and with a higher coffee to milk ratio.
Australian and Kiwi baristas are incredibly skilled in latte art techniques so when they brought this espresso based drink over to the UK they showcased these skills alongside this drink on Instagram and have made the drink almost synonymous with latte art on social media.
Any professional barista should be able to handle milk steaming, but oftentimes latte art is a skill baristas don’t know. It may seem like a superfluous skill, but milk art can really add another dimension to the coffee drinking experience you want to provide. Let’s see the different styles of latte art available.
The Different Styles of Latte Art
There are two main types of latte art: free pouring, a pattern created during the pour, and etching which is using a tool to create a pattern after the pour. Free pouring is far more common in American and British cafes and requires little additional time in preparing a drink.
This is how the traditional heart and rosette pattern, created by Schomer, is created. To create patterns in this method, it requires the barista to manipulate the coffee by moving the cup during the pour. This is usually done with the coffee cup on an angle, with the angle changing during the pour to change the pattern.
As mentioned before, this technique occurs after the pour. This allows much more varied patterns in the cup. Etched patterns range from simple geometric shapes to complicated drawings, such as cross hatching, images of animals and flowers, and are generally performed with a coffee stirrer of some sort. The downside is that the lifespan of these patterns is much shorter than free poured patterns as the foam dissolves into the milk far quicker. It is also very time-consuming in comparison to free pouring.
Why Does Latte Art Matter to Your Business?
However, as a business owner, latte art definitely has its place. There are a number of reasons why this will provide a positive experience for your drinkers. Firstly, a 2014 study at Oxford University, published in the peer-reviewed journal Flavour, found that arranging salads in the shape of famous artwork increased its perceived “tastiness”. Therefore, latte art in the famous patterns such as a heart or the ‘fern’ can also increase perceived tastiness for some.
There is also the theory that effort suggests value. Putting the effort into your coffee with latte art pays dividends. This is because good presentation increases the perceived monetary value of food and drink. Beautiful latte art signifies all the hard work that went into making that drink: someone was interested in coffee, through hours of practice they learned the craft of creating it, and now they are putting in extra effort to deliver a high-quality drink that looks as good as it tastes.
Finally, there is the exposure you can gain from some great latte art. Namely on the big social media platform for coffee: Instagram. By learning latte art, you could benefit from an unlimited amount of free advertising. Just type ‘latte art’ into Instagram and you’ll see how many people are sharing their coffee experiences and nothing encourages people to try a new hang-out more than a picture of some great coffee and food, recommended by a friend (with your company logo photobombing the shot.)
How 80 Stone Can Help
So you now need to learn latte art, where do you go? A quick YouTube tutorial just isn’t going to cut it. However, it may be too much hassle to send your baristas or yourself to a proper coffee school. This is where we come in. We provide a great barista training programme to up your barista skills. Our training centre is at the roasters in London and we can teach you all the basics or give you some more advanced skills. Get some knowledge, techniques and insights from barista specialists.
Get in Touch Today!
We provide a huge range of speciality coffee beans with different flavours to help you get a great tasting coffee to match that latte art. We are a wholesale coffee business so we can help give your cafe or coffee shop the edge or give your employees the best coffee break possible. If you’re looking at getting a barista to boost your office environment you should consider some barista training and great equipment to get the most out of your coffee. Stop by our cafe to taste our beans or just get in touch to learn more!