How To Perfect Your Latte Art Without Wasting Precious Coffee Grinds

If you're a coffee drinker, it's difficult not to be a little envious of the home baristas who can make a latte look like a work of art. It's not an easy feat to create those intricate designs that can take the form of everything from a simple leaf to an actual face. If you are unfamiliar, latte art is when the barista pours the beautiful, frothy microfoam from the steamed milk to create these images. While there are plenty of online classes and tutorials to help you along the way, practice makes perfect.

However, in your pursuit of excellence and a cool-looking cup of joe, there is no reason to waste precious coffee and milk while you figure out how to get it right. Instead, using a little food coloring, water, and soap you can hone your latte art skills and get the practice you need to become the next Rembrandt. Simply place a little water and food coloring of your choice in a cup. Then, add some dish soap to your metal pitcher filled with water and steam it with your espresso machine's wand. Pour some of your steamed, foamy, soap water into the cup with your food coloring until it is about halfway full, and then begin to pour the foam to create your latte art.

Milk quality matters

Latte art is difficult to get right largely because you have to achieve a microfoam — that top layer of tiny bubbles that sits gently at the top of a latte or cappuccino – that has the consistency of wet paint with a glossy appearance. Using this trick with soap will help you figure out how to do this and just how long it takes to get those tiny bubbles the way you want them; however, when you switch to milk, make certain you do what the pros do and start with a cold metal pitcher. You will soon discover it takes a little longer to get that layer of delicate and much-needed foam. When both the milk and pitcher are cold, you have more time to do so.

The quality of your milk is also important when making your latte art. Be sure to use whole milk because it is going to produce the best foam for your artistic endeavors, and if you look at your gallon of dairy and realize it is a couple of days from its expiration date, you may want to lower your expectations. This milk is not going to foam up as well as a new, fresh gallon, so it might be a little challenging to produce complicated images.