The Top 6 Latte Art Mistakes
This one goes out to all the lopsided hearts, leaves blowing in the wind, tornadoes, cloud snakes, potentially r-rated, abstract latte art attempts. Stop pouring lattes that disappoint by avoiding the top latte art mistakes home baristas make.
If you haven’t watched the video on milk steaming, that’s your first mistake — you need perfectly steamed milk to have any success in pouring latte art, so start there and come back!
1. Latte Art: Wrong size/shaped pitcher or cup
Second to the texture and quality of your milk, are the tools you use. If you want to get good results, you need proper latte or cappuccino cups — something shallow with a wide rim. For a pitcher, you want something symmetrical, with a good spout — nothing too wide. Lastly, make sure you’re using the appropriate size pitcher for your cup or vise-versa. When you’re done pouring, you should only have a little bit of milk left in the pitcher. If you have too much milk, you won’t be able to get a design because as you pour, the foam stays back, and the milk comes out first. It’s important to have primarily foam left when you start your design. If you don’t have enough milk, you’ll see a bunch of thicker lines of blobs on your design towards the end.
2. Latte Art: Pouring too low or too high
There is a time you should pour low, and there is a time you should pour high. Doing only one of these or doing them at the improper time is where baristas go wrong. You should pour high, with the spout of the milk pitcher just a few inches above the surface of the milk during your initial incorporation and then towards the end when you’re doing your strikethrough. When you’re making your design, the spout of the pitcher needs to almost be touching the espresso. If you stay high the entire time, you’ll never get a design. If you stay low the whole time, you’ll wash out the espresso and get foam on top when you don’t want it. The pitcher needs to be high for the incorporation, low when pouring your design, then high for the strikethrough. Being in any middle ground can make you sink your foam or cause unwanted foam on top.
3. Latte Art: Commitment issues
Don’t worry, we have them too — but not when it comes to pouring latte art. When it’s time to pour, if you under-commit, you’ll end up pouring too slowly, splashing milk everywhere, making a lot of bubbles on top of your espresso. Pour even slower, the milk may not even make it in the cup, running down the side of the pitcher. If you over-commit and pour too quickly, you’ll wash everything out and be completely out of control of your design. A little tip for you — practice your pour speed with water, then try pouring a few lattes with the cup on the counter, that way, you don’t spill hot milk all over yourself. Once you get the pacing down, just quick enough to smoothly dive under the surface of milk without causing bubbles or foam to appear on top, hold your cup in your hand at an angle when you begin your pour. This will let you access the surface of the espresso more easily and let you start your design sooner so it takes up more space in the cup. Just remember to tilt it back up as it fills. It’s a lot of multitasking but practice with water or over a sink. Don’t psyche yourself out. You got this!
4. Latte Art: Wiggling the pitcher too aggressively
The wiggle isn’t a necessity. If you’re getting hung up on the wiggle, I recommend you stop it all together. You can pour latte art without it, but it does add definition and dimension as well as give it morehelp it take up more surface area for a more complete fuller design. I see too many people violently wiggle their pitcher with a stiff wrist, shaking the milk everywhere or sinking their design. The wiggle should be easy and smooth. Pretend there’s a marble in your pitcher — you want it to glide back and forth smoothly. The easiest way to do this is by holding your pitcher by the handle, resting on the tips of your fingers. Lightly flex your fingers, encouraging this motion. If you’re comfortable with the way you hold your pitcher and you’re able to wiggle the pitcher smoothly while holding it differently than I do — that’s totally fine. For those really struggling, try it this way and see if it helps.
5. Latte Art: Rushing the strikethrough
You could do everything perfectly and then ruin it all in this very last simple step. The things I see go wrong with the strikethrough — staying low and rushing it. Once you get your design, you need to slowly lift your pitcher back up, slowing your stream of milk, making it sink underneath the surface of the milk, and then slice your design in half, giving it symmetry by working your way to the other side of the cup. If you stay too low, you’ll drag your entire design forward with you making it a wonky, elongated heart or rosetta. You need the strikethrough to happen when the cup is practically full, completely upright, and you need to work your way slowly to the opposite side of the cup. Sometimes, I’ll even go over the edge of the cup a little to make sure it’s complete. Another common issue is raising up for the strikethrough somewhere random in the cup. You need it to be at the very end of your design. Wherever you lift up, you’ll start sinking your design there. If you move around and raise up anywhere else, you won’t be able to create a symmetrical design. Another common issue with the strikethrough is more of a blast off. Keep it chill, steady, and level as you smoothly work your way from one side of the cup to the other.
6. Latte Art: Using one pitcher for two drinks
This one is for you time savers and multi-taskers. Your latte art is suffering because of this. If you steam one pitcher of milk for two drinks, your chances of latte art are small. The first cup will barely have a design, most likely nothing. The second one might have too much foam. They’ll look and taste different. If you must steam one pitcher of milk, you can kind of make a design happen if you then pour half of the contents quickly into another pitcher and then groom it a bit. But if you have two pitchers, just steam two pitchers. Remember, this is about making great latte art, not saving time.We want to hear your feedback. Tell us if this helped! Leave comments, questions, ridicules, but mostly praises below. Send us pictures of your latte art successes and fails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck out there!