A good barista knows latte art. It’s proof of a barista’s expertise and love of the craft. However, skill and practice aside, the first step is to get the right equipment. To help you, we have made a guide to walk you through your latte art crafting journey.
Get the best possible espresso machine for your home setup
Making espresso looks easy. But here’s something most home baristas will not tell you: extracting a café-standard espresso starts with a specialised machine.
This is where the De’Longhi Dedica Manual Espresso Machine comes in with its 15-bar professional pump. With the amount of pressure this machine generates, you’ll be able to extract the full flavour from your beans without any of those nasty bitter notes.
Alternatively, take your latte art even further still with our La Specialista Arte and La Specialista Prestigio, both of which are equipped with the MyLatte Art steam wand that will truly enhance your artistic abilities.
Start by pulling the perfect espresso
Ever wondered what’s the top layer of an espresso shot? That’s crema and it’s the secret to good latte art. This is also the same reason why you can’t make latte art on an Americano. Most of the crema has been diluted by large amounts of water.
Crema is formed during espresso extraction when pressure is applied, and consists of microbubbles attached to the natural oil and fats of your coffee beans. For the perfect latte art, you have to make sure that your espresso shot has a nice layer of crema, which can take years of practice to achieve through perfect tamping technique and using correct grind sizes.
A simple alternative, however, is just to use whole coffee beans such as De’Longhi’s selection of gourmet coffee beans. They provide crisp and clear flavour profiles with enough varieties from different coffee regions around the world for any budding home barista to explore. Better beans also mean a better extraction and better crema, so you can produce better latte art.
Learn how to froth milk the right way
Frothing milk can be hard for the novice barista. Your success will depend a lot on your steam wand and milk frothing jug. A stainless steel milk frothing pitcher is often the safest choice. As for the steam wand, you should find a quality one attached to your home espresso machine.
Getting the steam wand at the right angle will help introduce the right amount of air and heat into your milk. You know you’re doing a good job when you hear a ‘squelching’ sound coming from your milk frothing jug.
The process is easier with an adjustable steam wand, just like the one on the De’Longhi Dedica, which helps you manoeuvre around all sorts of weird angles. In a tight space, having a flexible steam wand is twice as important. Trust us. You won’t like having hot steam splashed at you.
Pouring your first latte art heart
Now we all love the jaw-dropping latte art you see at international barista competitions. But you have to start with the basics, and the heart is a rite of passage for every beginning barista.
Like most latte art, you start with filling up half your coffee cup with frothed milk, ensuring the crema’s surface remains unbroken. Next, you want to angle your milk frothing pitcher so that a ball forms in the middle of the cup. The size of the heart depends on how big of a ball you create. When your cup is full, it is time to stop pouring and draw across the ball. What you should get is an adorable heart sitting above the crema.
Mastering these movements will get you far when it comes to making latte art. Most complicated shapes can be broken down into those fundamental movements so it pays to get them right.
Never stop practising
Having all the correct coffee machine accessories gives you every advantage in making latte art. But real progress only happens through practice. Latte art is as much a sport as it is art.
Practice is important but you don’t want to waste milk. Milk is a valuable resource and it’s almost impossible to get it to its original state once it has been frothed.
While you learn to perfect your latte skills without burning a hole in your pocket, we recommend filling your milk frothing pitcher with water and a drop of dish soap as a replacement for milk. When frothing, you should get a texture similar to milk. Using water and soap is not only more environment-friendly, but it’s also likely to save you a few dollars down the line. Don’t forget to purge your steam wand everytime you’re done steaming as you won’t want any dish soap left in your next brew!
Understand the perfect cup depends on many factors
You can get pretty far once you understand what goes into a good espresso. But coffee is a complex subject and there’s much we haven’t talked about, like what grind size to use, for example.
If you would like to amp up your latte art skills, from time to time, check out the coffee workshops that De’Longhi runs with local coffee partners and roasters.
The perfect cup of coffee may be a myth. But you can still get close. When everything is accounted for, you get what we at De’Longhi call the Perfetto Moment. The good news is you too can experience the Perfetto Moment with the De’Longhi Coffee Home Trial.
It’s simple. For a small monthly fee, you get a home espresso machine and access to coffee made with the same standards as a professional café – all without having to leave your home. We even offer one-on-one sessions where all your coffee-related questions are answered through our coffee advisor team. And if you find that pulling shots is not your thing, you can return your coffee machine along with a cash refund. No hard feelings. So don’t wait. If you want a taste of the perfect espresso, it’s time you sign up for the De’Longhi Coffee Home Trial.