Latte art practice: espresso substitute?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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#1: Post by Nate42 »

So, I mostly drink straight espresso, and thus my milk skills leave a bit to be desired. Which is a polite way of saying I suck. What I need to do is knuckle down and do some practicing. I know about the drop of dish soap trick to substitute for milk, but I don't want to waste good espresso either. Is there a decent espresso substitute?

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#2: Post by BTD1986 »

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#3: Post by LaDan »

You could use instant coffee to practice.

1. Put a few tsp in a small pitcher. Add small amount of water to dissolve. Then weigh 30g into your latte cup. That'a your "espresso". It doesn't have crema, I know, but wait. Steam your milk for the art pour. Pour a little bit of the milk (about 2 tsp) into the cup and stir. Now you have your "brown crema". That's your "espresso". Now pour the rest of the micorfoamed milk to practice your latte art.

2. Repeat, until you're bored out of your mind.

3. Make yourself a real cappuccino or latte to celebrate victory.

4. Look at the latte art with self satisfaction.

5. Drink. Enjoy.

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#4: Post by yakster »

I learned to pour hearts at a latte art class at Barefoot Coffee by pouring textured milk into chocolate syrup. This took the focus off the espresso and gave us time to practice on steaming the milk and pouring without having to worry about pulling shots of espresso.

We didn't drink the shots, it was just a medium for practice.

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#5: Post by tamarian »

Use soy sauce. There's a couple of videos on learning latte art with soap and soy sauce.

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#6: Post by bjornm »

Thanks, this was great!

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#7: Post by jedovaty »

I buy cheapest whole milk in a gallon and a small squirt bottle of chocolate syrup. Dilute the syrup with water, about 1:1 ratio; you can change the ratio. Mix well, steam milk, practice pouring. I've successfully taught three people with this method so far :)

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#8: Post by Nate42 (original poster) »

Thanks for all the tips guys. Keep em comin if anyone has other ideas.

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#9: Post by LaDan »

Take a look at this video. I just stumbled upon it.

Read the comments and his Q&A.

Basically, the coffee is an instant coffee. Then he pour a bit of a milkfoam into it, stirs, and sprinkles some cocoa powder. Never mind that he doesn't steam to froth the milk, that's aside from the point of your OP, but see how nicely it works.

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#10: Post by Maxwell Mooney »

FWIW I practice for Coffee Fest by buying a cheap bag of bulk, gross coffee, and the cheapest milk out there. You can pour latte art in a variety of different bases. I've done the soy thing (it makes me want to barf thinking about the smell), hot chocolate, chai, etc, but it's best to have coffee and milk together because those substitutes react differently than coffee does. Heck, different coffees react differently enough as it is! If you happen to have a local, lower quality roaster you can get some nasty, albeit fresh, coffee from on the cheap, I highly recommend it. Costco also works well, as many of them have in-store roasting operations as well.

That said, if all you have is a pharos, get an electric grinder. ;)

instant coffee should do the trick if you must. Just don't be as neurotic as that guy in the video. Incredibly surprised that rosetta turned out as well as it did.
"Coffee is evidence of Divine Grace, flavored coffee evidence of the Fall" -Kevin Hall

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