Coffee culture

Milk Art and how to enjoy milk with your coffee machine

While the first creator of this technique remains unknown Latte Art is an international phenomenon which appears to have been sparked by a Verona-born barista by the name of Pierangelo Merlo who discovered – while making one of many cappuccinos – that it was possible to create shapes similar to hearts, leaves and apples by pouring frothed milk onto the surface of espresso coffee.

When preparing the milk, temperature is a crucial element both at the beginning and at the end of the process. The first thing to do to ensure a correct foaming time is to start with milk just out from the fridge.

The end temperature, too, is critical: when milk exceeds 65-70°C the fats it contains begin to separate, and this leads not only to a loss of texture but also to a souring of the coffee flavour.

To begin, the mug of coffee should be held in one hand and tilted slightly away to facilitate the creation of a “latte pattern” without having to move the milk frother too much. Then hold the milk frother between 2-3 centimetres above the cup and slowly and steadily start pouring the milk cream into the centre of the cup.

Gently move the milk frother closer to the cup, and tip it with your thumb to slightly speed up the pour.

Now wiggle the milk frother gently and fluidly back and forth to begin creating a zig-zag pattern.

Finally, back the milk frother toward the edge of the cup that is closest to you while untilting the cup.

Slow down your pour slightly, raise the pitcher about a centimetre above the flat cup, and drizzle a small stream of milk back across the centre of the cup to finish the rosetta pattern.

Quick tips and things to know to enjoy milk with your coffee machine

  • Clean the steam wand with a small amount of steam before use and wipe it with a cloth. This ensures the flow is correct and there are no residual milk fat deposits in the way. 
  • Clean the steam wand before and after steaming, taking care to wipe it afterwards.
  • Fill the stainless Steel milk jug to about 1/3 full, as when you steam milk it will increase in volume. 
  • When making latte art, practice makes perfect. The trick to determine the correct temperature of the milk is to hold the jug with your dominant hand while steaming. If you can’t hold it for more than 3 consecutive seconds, the temperature is perfect and it’s time to turn off the steam wand. As an alternative, you can use a milk frothing temperature thermometer.
  • Fresh is best: always use cold milk, just out of the fridge, and never reheat it. In fact, cold milk enables the proteins, which are responsive for creating and stabilizing the foam, to assemble in a stable link.
  • When you’ve finished steaming, swirl the jug and tap gently on the surface to remove any unwanted bubbles in the milk.

See the first step of the Coffee culture

Setting the stage for the perfect cup of espresso