How to make latte art, according to Canada’s champion

A surprisingly beginner-friendly breakdown

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Before you take a course with you Venice Morales Vallega (MV), my latte art attempts were in vain. It didn’t matter if I was looking for a swan, a flower, or a heart, I got a fake Jackson Pollock.

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MV is the Canadian Latte Art Champion and earned this title at the World Latte Art Championship. Sometimes when I go to a cute cafe I ask the barista if he can make latte art because it makes me happy and I can’t. Freight wagons Social Laneway in Toronto was one of those cafes. Barista Kamalpreet Singh mentioned that he knows our country’s best latte artist MV and organized the master class. I can now make a latte art heart.

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My biggest takeaway from the master class: A latte artist is only as good as his tools.

Some of MV’s most popular tools:

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How to froth milk for latte art

Step one before steaming milk makes an espresso in a cup setting you up for a latte art masterpiece.

It’s important to get the right milk texture for latte art. If it’s too fluffy, you’ll have a hard time working with it. You want it to have a smooth consistency.

  • Pour milk into the steamer: Whole milk is ideal for latte art, but 2% is also fine. Try dairy-free options oat milk because it foams well. Pour a few inches of milk into the steamer, being careful not to exceed the maximum fill line.
  • Steam wand position: Imagine your pressure cooker is a clock – an analogue one. Place the stick on the spout of the jug and angle the stick so it hits the milk where 2 would be. Hold the handle of the pot with one hand and touch the side of the pot with the other. This way you can feel the right temperature (once it gets too hot to touch).
  • steam technique: Dip the steam nozzle a few centimeters into the milk and start steaming. After a few seconds, dip the steam nozzle deeper into the milk, but don’t touch the bottom. You want the milk to start swirling in a clockwise direction. Continue until the streamer mug is too hot to touch and turn off the steamer.
  • Pop the bubbles out: You may have some bubbles in your milk. Hit the steaming pot on your counter to remove bubbles. You can also swirl the milk a few times until the milk is silky smooth.
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Check out the full process

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How to make a latte art heart

MV decided that a heart was the perfect place to start. It’s not too difficult and it definitely makes me happy.

  • Make an espresso shot: Although I mostly like Americanos, latte art really is best made with a latte. So make just one shot of espresso. Try to use darker beans when trying latte art so you can clearly see the contrast between the dark brown espresso and the light milk colors.
  • steamed milk: See above.
  • Cast obliquely: Hold your espresso cup at an angle. Start pouring the milk into the center of the espresso, then pour in in a swirling pattern. While pouring about half of the milk, slowly rotate the cup back to the neutral position. Use the remaining frothed milk to make your heart.
  • Be close to the heart: Pour a small dollop of milk into the center of the cup, making sure the steamer is near the latte. Continue pouring the milk through and under the blob from one side of the “blob.” This should turn the blob into a beautiful heart.

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The key word in the last step is “should”. It literally took me a lot of hand holding before I started getting anything resembling a heart. MV and Singh were next level patients. I would suggest watching the video above to see the tutorial and learning curve (fingerburn not captured). MV also gives master classes. And then it’s practice, practice, practice. I can drink espresso really well now.

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My favorite latte art tools

Latte Art by Venice MV.
Latte Art by Venice MV. Photo by Postmedia

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