Latte Art Beginner- Unable to find right advice

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.

#1: Post by LM03 »

I've been a rookie barista for a few months and while I can make a consistent taste in my coffee drinks, latte art is a tricky hurdle I'm trying to leap.

My attempts are stalled by problems I recognise, like the right amount of milk to use in my base (too little/too much) and perhaps injecting air too quickly.
However, when I begin to pour even after swirling my espresso and my milk is perfect, my designs end up not travelling across the cup or splashing outwards, like my milk and/or my base was too thin even if neither are true.

All I'm trying to do is get a consistent bulb first before I move into perfecting hearts, but I'm infuriated by my slow going progress due to this confusion.

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#2: Post by MNate »

Pictures would certainly help!

Most of the time I feel like it really is that you don't have the texture of the milk right. If you do, and you drop your pitcher down very close to the surface of the coffee the right thing will pop out on the surface beautifully. Of course then there is the question of how to get that to make nice patterns... but pics?

LM03 (original poster)

#3: Post by LM03 (original poster) »

Ah sorry! Common sense is out of my head rn. This is my latest 'success' from my shift. I'll be sure to take photos of my issues to record them, I had gotten too caught up in my mistakes to photograph them.


#4: Post by blutch »

I have the same exact problem. I either just get a big blob or NOTHING happens as I pour.. the milk just dives under. I have watched DOZENS of videos, many of them 10 times. I have multiple pitchers, a milk thermometer and my milk looks just like it should from the videos. I love the taste, but I just can't get any recognizable art to happen. I've gotten lucky a few times and ended up with a tiny heart or two, but I'm to the point where I'm looking for a barista in my area who I could pay to train me.


#5: Post by Bluenoser »

When I started this hobby, I watched a few videos on Latte Art and thought that it is something that should be able to be learned in a week.. but.. it was much, much more difficult than it looked, for me. Like a skater that glides across the ice, no one can predict how long it will take someone to become proficient. I've been actively working at it for 3 years.. I can do 3 basic patterns.. with varying degrees of success.

I started by using dish soap and food colouring with water. It teaches about aeration and getting the right angle for vortex.. the sound of aeration. I made about 100 'drinks' this way over about 3 weeks.

There are lots of threads here on Latte Art.. with links to dozens of videos.. I think every person attempting latte art has different issues so it is difficult to offer any one piece of advice.. or a set of steps..

Mostly it takes doing it a thousand times.. As a home barista that is hard to do with milk.. unless you have a very large family. That is why dish soap is a good training aid. Here are some videos that helped me.. they can be searched for on YouTube..

An older video (not sure of origin) just worked on putting water in one jug and practice the pouring motion for developing muscle memory.

Sunergos has a very good milk training video that goes over a lot of theory on why milk doesn't always flow..

Decent did a recent video on latte art and the guy was excellent.. one tip here was that he said if you wait even seconds to start the pour your milk will separate and the result will be limited..

Lance Hendricks is a latte art champ and has put out videos on it..

But watching videos only got me part way there.. it was just doing it many times and trying different things..

By far, the best way to learn latte art is to find someone who is pretty good at it (even better if you have a Barista friend) and have them try to teach you. You'll quickly learn when there is too much or too little air.. how that looks. How many seconds you should aerate and then to determine when you have a good enough vortex.. Then when you pour.. if you are going to slow, to fast.. too high, too low.. Did you set the base.. did you wait to long to start the pour.. When you shake the jug, can you feel the momentum of the milk so you are 'wiggling' at the proper frequency.

You'll get something different out of every video.. but its a skill learned over a longer period of time than one thinks..

Finally if you produce videos of your pours, it is much easier to critique and offer advice unique to your stage of progress.


#6: Post by Haskens »

A lot of the videos on YouTube are excellent resources, some of them mentioned by bluenoser above for example. Here's a couple things that I've learnt that I don't recall seeing in videos - before pouring your art, swirl your espresso to break the surface tension a bit. It lets the milk flow easier; after pouring the milk to use as your base, start pouring your art immediately, or it won't flow well (though judging by your photo that isn't an issue you're having, as that typically manifests as tiny blobs; take it easy, pour in a gentle motion, almost think of your milk as a flowing brush that will push the already poured milk out of the way. Just keep at it, the most important part is milk texture, if you get that right art becomes really easy, and even if the art sucks at least the drink is still great.


#7: Post by chipman »

Just call your efforts "abstract art"

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BaristaBoy E61

#8: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

What kind of milk are you using (2%, 3.25% whole milk)?

Try pouring the milk from the steaming pitcher into another pitcher preheated by sitting on the cup tray to further refine the texture and amount of steamed milk for the (hopefully) 'perfect' pour. When doing the last pour between pitchers only fill the pouring pitched to what you would deem the right amount of milk to start with, something around up to the bottom of the spout.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"


#9: Post by dchooo »

I am 100% self taught in most coffee "stuff". That includes latte art.

1. Get your milk consistency down. You could be the best in doing latte art, but if your milk is not the right texture, itll probably suck.

2. Watch latte art videos!! The difference between a "Starbucks" worker and a specialty barista is all in the details (btw, nothing wrong with starbucks baristas, I don't mean to leave them out but sorry). Watch the way they froth their milk. Watch how GOOD baristas make sure to keep the tip close to the surface of the milk but downward but not stretching. They're hitting that fine point of making those tiny little microfoam so the milk comes out like silk. Watch at which distance they pour. Watch how they do the squiggly lines. Watch how some baristas lay the base before pouring the art, and some NOT stop their flow and just drop the pitcher to start their art. Watch how competition artists pour. Watch BAD latte art videos. Watch at which speed the good art forms good art. Watch how the bad pours go wrong. BE a latte art critic and judge the good ones to the bad ones. I can go on.

Unfortunately, latte art is something that takes a steady hand and lots of experience. I see this time and time again. GET YOUR MILK CONSISTENCY DOWN BEFORE DOING ANYTHING. Not only for the sake of setting yourself up to be successful, but at least if you screw up, it still tastes delicious.

Ask other baristas (if you can). Everybody's got their little trick sometimes.

At the end of the day, just remember. It's just coffee.

LM03 (original poster)

#10: Post by LM03 (original poster) »

I mostly use whole, since most of my customers use whole, and i use the cappuccinos for practice [I know that it can be bad practice to do so with customers' drinks but luckily we cover them in chocolate by default so it's hidden either way.] Though I am slowly getting the hang of skimmed milk in terms of its texture.