By Jonathan Parent

Succeed in a latte art - Beyond drawing

Much more than a finish that matches your coffee, the art of having a successful latte depends on several factors. We will guide you through the different steps to make your latte art a success with the collaboration of Vincent St-Gelais, barista and trainer since 2016 and always passionate about coffee.


First, know that the fresher the milk, the more stable it will create. Milk that is older or near its expiration date may bubble and taste great, but it will break down quickly.

While it may sound laborious, there are only two things to do when frothing milk for latte art. There is a misconception that you have to heat the milk first, but it is quite the opposite:

1. Beat the air to create bubbles
2. Heat the milk


Steps for making milk mousse for latte art

1. Measure the amount of milk

Pour the cold milk into a stainless steel pitcher. Do not fill the pitcher more than 60%, because the milk froth will gain in expansion and volume and could overflow. As Vincent explains, we want to incorporate air into the milk before it reaches room temperature. Why In order to obtain a stable foam with a silky texture, that is to say a micro-foam without visible air bubbles. Hence the advantage of having cold milk, which leaves more latitude.

How much milk to use This will, of course, depend on the size of your cup. If you take a cup of about 10 oz, so ideal for a latte, it is best to do froth milk in a 20 oz pitcher filled to one cm below the beginning of the spout. The same goes for a cappuccino (if you use a 12 oz pitcher). Better to have more than not enough, says Vincent.

2. Purge the nozzle

This means removing water that collects inside the wand due to condensation. To do this, point the steam wand at the drip tray or at a rag and briefly open the valve. Two or three seconds is enough.

3. Position the nozzle

Dip the steam wand into the milk so that only the tip is submerged and rests in the spout. Once the steam wand is on, and when you have incorporated enough air into our milk, try to swirl to distribute the froth and milk evenly. It can be quite difficult at first, don't panic! With a little practice, you end up finding the right angle. Sometimes you have to be patient, depending on the machine and the power of the nozzle.

4. Create bubbles and heat the milk

Open the valve to full flow and gently lower the pitcher until the wand is almost out of the milk. Listen carefully: you want to hear a whistle from the wand start to whip the air into the milk. If it splashes or you see large bubbles forming on the surface, it is a sign that the nozzle is not pushed in far enough. As the milk expands, lower the pitcher a little further to bring it to the surface if you want to add more air. Tip: If we don't get enough air into our milk at the start, we say that it screams while heating. This is precisely because it lacks air (high-pitched and shrill sound), whereas if we have integrated an adequate amount of it, the sound will be more muffled and silent, explains Vincent.t.

How to know that you have the desired amount of foam?

The general rule of thumb is to allow at least a good 3-4 seconds of air integration before dipping the nozzle into the milk (1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi) and submerging the steam nozzle again to begin heating the froth. It needs to be just below the surface. Place it lightly to one side and you will see the milk start to swirl and churn. The process should now be relatively quiet..

To check if the temperature of your milk is hot enough, use your free hand to touch the base of your pitcher. Continue to heat the milk until it becomes uncomfortable to the touch. At this time, the milk will be around 55 degrees Celsius. You can remove your hand from underneath and continue lathering for another 3 to 5 seconds. Although very aesthetic in appearance, art latte also affects the taste of your drink. Once the froth volume is reached, you can heat the milk, but not too much, as the milk begins to degrade in flavor and texture from 68 degrees celsius (154 ºF). Be aware that heat denatures and spoils proteins, creating new flavors, not necessarily good. If in doubt, you can use a thermometer and aim to reach 140 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Clean up

Close the valve completely and place your pitcher on the table. Immediately afterwards, wipe the nozzle with a wet cloth, then roll it up to purge the nozzle into the cloth, so that the milk does not stick inside.

6. Smooth the foam

Knock your pitcher a few times on the counter to pop the few large bubbles that may have formed on the surface.

Before pouring your milk into your espresso, it is important that the milk and froth are well mixed, hence the need to swirl the liquid a little by making a few circular motions with the pitcher. Much like you do before your first sip of wine. Turn until a shiny foam appears. You have to act quickly without leaving the milk too long without moving, otherwise the froth and the milk will separate and it becomes almost impossible to make a beautiful latte art.

7. Incorporate milk into your espresso

First, add a drop of milk to your espresso and mix everything together with a flick of your wrist. This makes it possible to integrate the milk into the espresso and to have a canvas of a uniform color. Then pour the milk in circles into the cup. In general, you should stop about ⅔ of a cup before you start making your latte art.é.

8. Start your latte art

Tilt the cup so that the liquid ends up at the edge (this gives a larger work surface to stain the coffee), then pour in the center of the cup, straightening it as you go, so as not to not spill it everywhere.

Lactose free, skimmed, 2% or 3.25% milk?

In cow's milk there are proteins and these are the proteins that allow the bubbles to appear, so no matter what cow's milk, it will froth. The fat, for its part, gives the creamy texture to your mousse and has an impact on its taste, because it will bind everything together. A cappuccino made from skimmed milk will taste intense right off the bat, but it won't persist. This is because the foam of skimmed milk separates more quickly and does not integrate well with espresso. A cappuccino made from whole milk, on the other hand, offers a smoother and more balanced taste, from the first to the last sip. It's still a matter of taste, of course, but when it comes to latte art, it's best to use milk with a high percentage of fat. Its more supple and silky texture makes it the best choice. The last element of milk to consider would be lactose. This will have an impact on the sweetness of the foam, because once heated, lactose breaks down and releases sugars.

And what about alternative milks?

Cow's milk provides approximately 8 grams of protein per cup (250 ml). Oat milk contains around 1.5 to 2 grams of protein. The fat content of cow's milk is standardized as whole milk at 9 g.Oat milk: 2.75 grams of fat and 1.15g of protein.1

  • Milk with the most fat: cow's milk
  • Milk with the least fat: almond milk
  • The highest protein milks: cow and soy milk

Which is the easiest alternative milk to use for making latte art and which one goes best with coffee notes??

Without hesitation, theoat milk is in my opinion the great champion of alternative milks. This is the one that has the least influence on the taste of the coffee, in addition to producing a very nice foam with which it is quite possible to make latte art. As long, of course, that it is a milk made expressly for coffee, like that ofMinor Figure or fromOat Milk. These have a stable protein level and amount of fat, which allows for a good result. The most difficult to use, in my opinion, is still almond milk. Its low protein level makes it a very finicky milk that is difficult to work with, Vincent admits.t.


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