Pouring latte art | Useless Skills

30 Aug

A cappuccino from A16. If trying this at home, actual results may vary.

Thanks to the cutbacks at my company, I have recently found myself with lots of free time on my hands. What’s a girl to do? Learn some new skills, of course, to not only make myself more hireable (learn Google Analytics) and to invest in my personal development (polish up my French, exercise more), but also to impress my friends with otherwise useless skills and/or knowledge.

I’m chronicling the useless skills bit on this blog. First up, the skill that perfectly balances inutility and impressiveness: latte art!

Skill: Latte art
Degree of uselessness: Form over function
Level of achievement: Utter failure
Lessons learned: For those who want to learn how to make latte art, the Internet is full of good information. A quick search on YouTube turns up a ridiculous number of videos of baristas showing off their techniques (this one is particularly good).

One key–but often omitted–detail is that the crucial element to making good latte art is the quality of the foam. It seems obvious, but after a few failed attempts with my Bialetti Moka coffee and my Bodum milk frother, I realized that not even a mastery of the coffee pouring technique could help me turn my latte art, which somewhat resembled milk-and-coffee fingerpainting, into Louvre-quality. I had the wrong equipment.

This feeling was confirmed when I read CoffeeGeek’s comprehensive explanation of milk frothing. You need an espresso machine to make artist-quality milk microfoam. And not just any espresso machine–one with a high-end frother. And not only that, you need to know how to properly wield your particular frothing attachment to achieve the tiny bubbles and pourable consistency required of latte art-quality foam. CoffeeGeek’s frothing tips look like they can take you from n00b to home barista.

Sadly, my disposable income prevents me from getting an espresso maker, not even the adorbs and relatively inexpensive Francis! Francis!. Even more sadly, I am not related to anyone at the company that makes the Solis SL-70.

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2 Responses to “Pouring latte art | Useless Skills”

  1. kitty August 30, 2010 at 9:20 pm #

    I can teach you how make the Leaf and Heart but yes we would need an espresso machine. Not a super high-end one. If you have a friend that owns even a home-version we’ll make it happen. Its actually quite easy, it just take numerous failed attempts.

    • N August 31, 2010 at 11:29 am #

      Ooh… That would be cool! Though I was already thinking of hitting you up for some drink-making lessons. 🙂 I’ve been trying to recreate the Zenzerro from the Americano bar at Hotel Vitale. It involves two key elements: proper mint muddling and a gingercello (which I’m trying to make).

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