How to make latte art at home: the complete guide

24 March 2017

For a nation of tea-lovers we sure do drink a lot of coffee. According to the British Coffee Association we drink approximately 55 million cups of coffee a day in the UK.

Not only do we want to enjoy high-quality coffee on the high street, but we also want it at work and at home.

So, in celebration of UK Coffee Week 2017, we’ve created an ultimate guide on how to make barista-style coffee at home, complete with latte art. Anyone can do it!

What you need

The equipment

  • Espresso machine
  • Tamper
  • Milk jug
  • Coffee grinder

The ingredients

  • Coffee (freshly ground)
  • Milk (fresh)
  • Zero barista experience

With the right equipment and just two ingredients, baristas aspire to achieve the perfect alchemy of sweet coffee and silky-smooth milk, all presented beautifully. Here’s how to do it. 

Step-by-step guide to making the perfect coffee at home

  1. The espresso

Quality coffee goes on a long journey to reach you. A barista’s job is to do the coffee justice by brewing it perfectly.

When you brew coffee, it starts out bitter, then turns sweet and acidic, before going bitter and dry. Baristas aim to hit the ‘sweet’ spot in the middle where the balance is just right. 

  1. Get your equipment ready
    • Ensure the handle is hot and clean. (Tip: always leave it in the machine to keep it at the right temperature.)
    • Clean the group head by running water through it to flush out old coffee.
  2. Grind your coffee
    • Coarse coffee will brew faster than fine coffee as water runs through it more quickly.
    • You’re aiming for 25 seconds of pouring so you’ll need to experiment to achieve that perfect grind.
  3. Prepare your coffee
    • Place the ground coffee in the handle.
    • Be careful not to spill any as even a tiny difference in the amount will have an impact on your coffee.
    • Support the handle on the edge of your work surface and use a tamper to make the coffee as flat and even as possible.
  4. Make your espresso
    • Put the handle in the machine and lock it in place. Start the machine immediately, selecting the right size of coffee.
    • A pour time of 25 seconds will give you a perfectly balanced, sweet espresso.
    • If it takes longer, adjust your grinder to leave the coffee coarser, or vice versa.

Watch this video for the full guide to making a perfect espresso.

ESPRESSO from UCC Coffee UK & Ireland on Vimeo.

 

  1. The milk

You can get silky-smooth and velvety-textured milk every time by following these simple steps:

  1. Pour fresh cold milk into your jug.
  2. Clean the steam arm with a quick blast and pull it out to the middle.
  3. Put the jug in place and tilt it towards you – there’s no need to move it up and down.
  4. Add the amount of air you require (more if you’re preparing a cappuccino) and then, using your judgement, remove the jug when it reaches 60-64C.
  5. Let the milk rest before giving it a gentle bang down on the surface to allow the air to rise to the top.
  6. ‘Surf’ the milk by gently swirling the jug – this helps the airy texture on the top mix with the milk underneath to get that perfect shine you’re after.

Remember there are two basic rules:

  • Add the air to the milk.
  • Heat the milk but stop before you burn it.

Watch an expert barista talk you through the method for preparing your milk perfectly.

MILK from UCC Coffee UK & Ireland on Vimeo.

 

  1. The latte art

Now you have your espresso and your milk, it’s time to create some latte art for that gorgeous presentation.

Baristas use a number of techniques to create beautiful, elaborate latte art:

  • Moving the jug up and down
  • Moving the jug around in circles
  • Pouring the milk fast or slow
  • Tipping the cup

You can learn the basics of creating a simple heart by removing these variables and focusing solely on pour speed. Once you’ve mastered that, you can add in the other variables and start getting creative.

  1. Hold the cup in one hand and the jug in the other.
  2. Support the jug on the rim of the cup for a consistent, smooth pour.
  3. Pour the milk steadily into the centre of the cup.
  4. Wait till the foam gathers in the centre and flick back through it, creating a heart shape.

Watch this video for the full step-by-step guide to mastering the latte art basics.

LATTE ART from UCC Coffee UK & Ireland on Vimeo.

Now you can start getting creative and make your own latte art at home.