Cup shape conducive to latte art?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
unclefreizo

#1: Post by unclefreizo »

Happy holidays all,

I'm pulling pretty good shots and at least I think I'm steaming some very good microfoam. I was wondering if cup shape had anything to do with my failed attempts at making pretty cappucini.

Rather than a bowl shape at the bottom, the coffee mugs and short cups I have are fairly cylindrical in shape, so a very flat bottom and sharply angled sides.

I've tried tipping the cup over slightly when pouring, pouring gently, pouring aggressively, but my espresso and milk end up always mixing together and all I end up with is a pour where a consistently colored mixture rises as I pour, and then I finish with a dollop of the end-pour foam on top.

I'm pretty sure I'm making good foam, however, since it's a very tight, velvety foam that pours but still holds up very well.

The drinks taste great, so this is really a nitpicky post. My shots' crema mixes with the foam and actually creates a very smooth, tight layer on top of the cup after it has sat awhile. Even when I drink it my lip cleaves a hole out of the foam and it's a quite pleasing texture.

But it does not look so great on top.

Might it be the consistency of the espresso (too liquidy)?

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Randy G.

#2: Post by Randy G. »

I watched a talented barista pour microfoam into a paper cup, using soymilk no less!

I use the 6 ounce traditional shaped cappuccino cups by ACF. Wide mouthed and short stature does seem to make things easier for us mere mortals..
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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#3: Post by RapidCoffee »

unclefreizo wrote:Might it be the consistency of the espresso (too liquidy)?
More likely the consistency of the microfoam. FWIW, I find latte art quite difficult. It took me a long time to get past the internal organs stage of latte art. "Um, yeah, well, that's a rendition of your small intestine." :oops:
John

Endo

#4: Post by Endo »

In my opinion, cup shape is the "best kept secret" of latte art. Sure, a pro can pour a Rosetta in a thimble, but for someone starting out, the big, round cup shapes make it SO much easier.

Try the Latte cups from 49th Parallel Roasters. They are the easiest I've found so far. They even have a 50ml marker on the inside so you know how much espresso to pour.
"Disclaimer: All troll-like comments are my way of discussing"

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sweaner
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#5: Post by sweaner »

RapidCoffee wrote:More likely the consistency of the microfoam. FWIW, I find latte art quite difficult. It took me a long time to get past the internal organs stage of latte art. "Um, yeah, well, that's a rendition of your small intestine." :oops:
Yes, I can pour a mean pancreas, and my spleen ain't bad either!!
Scott
LMWDP #248

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HB
Admin

#6: Post by HB »

Reminds me of another thread...
Psyd wrote:In pouring the 'Post-Dinner Fish' the technique requires that the foam be a bit fluffier than usual. Start an aggressive pour, from the near side of the cup to the far, and, with a very quick waggy motion, set the 'bones' of the fish on the return. Make sure that the swipe (the 'spine') is a bit off center to give it the proper 'belly/top-fin' ratio.

«missing video»
From Latte Art Challenge[d]
Back to the original question, the cup shape helps, but technique is king. Be certain you've mixed the foam well; even cottonball foam is salvageable with enough swirling. From the same thread:
HB wrote:
Let me begin with my excuses. Although I regularly drank cappuccinos for years, nowadays I prepare them only a few times a month. If I ever had latte art skills, they could only be politely described as "rusty." The video production steps also caused delays that allowed the crema to fade and the steamed milk to start cotton balling. Next time I'll have the video already going instead of fiddling with on/off switches and the camera's capture modes while the espresso sits.

Technical commentary: For a latte, too much air was injected, though it was about right for a cappuccino. I used my largest cup (12 ounces), which drew out the espresso to a thin layer, increasing the speed with which the crema dissipated. The polishing technique seen in the first part of the video eliminated the "cotton ball" and elicited a nice paint-like texture from the milk. Pouring began high, though not aggressively enough, causing an initial splash of white across what little crema remained. I should have lowered the pitcher nearer the surface and the rocking motion was too late and not quite enough.
BTW, you can pick up cups on the cheap on eBay. Search for rego cups or buffalo china cups. Be careful of shipping costs though, you could end up with a $15 diner cup.
Dan Kehn

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malachi

#7: Post by malachi »

I have some ACF "bowl shaped" 5.5oz Capp cups that are almost like cheating.
They have a highly polished interior, and no flat spot at the bottom.
"Taste is the only morality." -- John Ruskin

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ChadTheNomad

#8: Post by ChadTheNomad »

I started latte art years ago, and I can comfortably pour something reasonable in almost any cup shape; however, it was the 6oz (I think) Intelligentsia d'Ancap cup that really honed my skills. The ACF cups are very similar in shape and also work very well.

I still have a hard time pulling off decent art on a macchiato though.
I've tried tipping the cup over slightly when pouring, pouring gently, pouring aggressively, but my espresso and milk end up always mixing together and all I end up with is a pour where a consistently colored mixture rises as I pour, and then I finish with a dollop of the end-pour foam on top.
Like others have said, it sounds like your technique is a little off. You shouldn't be getting the dollop of end-pour foam at all. Either you're stretching too aggressively at the beginning and creating foam that can't be incorporated into the milk, or you're not getting a proper whirlpool/swirl action in the pitcher after stretching.

I would stretch less aggressively but perhaps extend your stretching time. You should get very minimal bubbles, and then work to really incorporate that foam into the milk. Swirling the pitcher after you're done helps for some stubborn small bubbles, but if you stretched too much in the beginning there is little you can do, imo.

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HB
Admin

#9: Post by HB »

ChadTheNomad wrote:Swirling the pitcher after you're done helps for some stubborn small bubbles, but if you stretched too much in the beginning there is little you can do, imo.
When pressed for time, I cheat by pouring off the airy top and remixing. Some baristas in competition use a second pitcher to control the amount of foam poured into each cup. I haven't tried that at home...
Dan Kehn

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cannonfodder
Team HB

#10: Post by cannonfodder »

I think the shallow bowl shaped cups make it much easier. The large diameter, shallow depth allows you to get the pitcher close to the surface of the drink quicker before you start your swing. Foam consistency is the real key. I find that if I stop frothing and stretching 5-10 seconds sooner than I normally would I get more flowing foam but a cooler drink. Then there are those uber baristas that could pour a Rosetta in a trash can. I am happy for a dozen leaves and a straight line but I don't drink a lot of milk based drinks.
Dave Stephens