Looks like microfoam, but it won't mark the surface until the very end - Page 4

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

#31: Post by Rob Whelan »

I am learning latte art too. Another point to consider on crema. You want your foamed milk to rest on top of, or push aside, your crema. So the crema must be denser than the foam for the foam to rest on top. A few ways to have denser crema:

1. Pull a shorter shot; I think that the espresso near the end of the shot is less dense than early on
2. Use fresher beans
3. Use dry-processed beans; I believe that the Italian 'recipe' (I read this on Sweet Maria's) is 70% Brazilian DP something-or-other; dry processing leaves a bunch of stuff on the bean that contributes to the mass of insolubles in the crema emulsion
4. Add robusta beans; this creates more crema. But does anyone know if the robusta crema really does go away faster? Or make bubbles or anything?

Rob Whelan

#32: Post by Rob Whelan »

Just some philosophy. I hope painters, sculptors, illustrators, and anyone else in the visual arts have discussions about technique.

In any art, there is a combination of technique (science) and expression (art). How you hold the pitcher, how hot the milk gets, how to get a whirlpool, are all similar to, for example, a painter who uses watercolors deciding how to prepare his or her paint.


#33: Post by frustrated_uk »

HB wrote:
From Latte Art Challenge[d]
Sorry, hate to troll, but why the hell would anyone release this to the world as an educational video?

BTW, to the OP, just use your 16oz pitcher, swirl it and stuff, then tip out all but 1 cup's worth of milk into another pitcher. Now you're not racing the filling cup to get the foam out.


#34: Post by werbin »

frustrated_uk wrote:...why the hell would anyone release this to the world as an educational video?
You misread that post. It was not posted as an educational video. Look at the title: "Latte Art Challenge(d)" and read the post. It was posted as a problem that the author was having while trying to do Latte Art.

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Team HB

#35: Post by drgary »

another_jim wrote: If it tastes right, but didn't mark, then it was the shot that had crema problems.
Jim's one of the most reliable sources of practical wisdom on this site, but this piece of advice may be more of a tune-up than a must. When I occasionally get a capp at Blue Bottle, my favorite barista there, Charlie, hands me the shot and a cup so I can put it through filter paper. She then pours a perfect rosetta using soymilk, no less, through a double ristretto with no crema. This gives me the best excuse, as if I need one, to go back and watch her latte art technique! (BTW, I do find that espresso hand poured through filter paper can lose some wonderful flavor overtones, especially with beans with prominent floral flavors.)

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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#36: Post by espressotime »

If the milk is perfect I can make latte art in a cup with filter coffee.

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Team HB

#37: Post by drgary »

This is a great thread, folks! One thing I might throw into the mix. It seems that the whirlpool starts naturally a few seconds into texturing and may require the development of enough tiny bubbles that the movement of water vapor catches them and whole process gains traction.

I've been struggling with this too and having poor results until, inspired by this thread, I placed the tip of the pitcher much closer to the espresso. Then I got to the stage where I was starting to paint something. Not much, though, I've gotten to the stage that what I'm painting is, as others have noted, similar to a painting of a pancreas instead of something nice like ferns!

I'm also happy to learn you can even do latte art with skimmed milk.

And although I've seen good latte art done without crema, good crema must make things easier. Jim and others wouldn't write about that unless they'd experienced a difference. I appreciate his comments about measuring microfoam by taste and Rob's tips on making denser crema.

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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#38: Post by Kristi »

does the shape of the pitcher make any difference?

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#39: Post by jknotzke »

As someone who is just learning as well, I can summarize what has worked for me and it will no doubt confirm much of what else has been said here..

First and foremost it's getting the foaming right. I used cold water and a drop of dish soap and practiced and practiced until I could get perfect microfoam.

It took me hours and hours.. Then doing some reading here, I noticed people had more success by plugging their steam tips. I own a Cimbali JR which is very hard to froth small amounts of milk with. So I plugged ALL the holes except the one at the very middle-bottom.

Bingo. It took a lot longer to froth, but it made a huge, huge difference. That is, going from not being able to, to being able to very easily. The plugged holes gave me lots more time to get it right.

I also got the Espro Toroid pitcher.. I find with that, and my modification to the wand, I can get an excellent whirlpool. I can't say for sure if it was the pitcher or not. So I don't want people getting the impression that with this pitcher, you are good to go. I haven't tried without one.

So, I surf the top of the milk until 80F or so and then whirlpool it until about 135F and then stop.

Then clean the wand, clean the thermometer, purge the wand and start swirling the milk (the cleaning gives me 20 seconds or so to let the milk sit).. I swirl the milk for a while and then start the pour.

Rather then try and "draw" anything, I just focused on learning when the milk actually starts to mark the coffee. Thus I'd tilt the cup and right away, just push the spout as close a frickin' possible to the coffee and not move it.. just pour. Then I'd see when it starts to mark the coffee.

Once I got that, I'd then change and start low, move high and then go low again.. Each time trying to figure out at what point does it start to "draw". Without question, the closer to the coffee the spout is, the more it draws. Once you learn this, you know when the "ink" starts running out your pen.

Once I got that feel, I knew when I could start to draw.. After that, just a question of learning how to move the pitcher around the coffee to get the design I want.

But the two crucial steps for me was getting microfoam and learning when the milk actually starts to draw.

The microfoam BTW really does look like white paint. It was only when I went to a local cafe that does Latte Art that I realized I wasn't getting anything close to microfoam.

It's a bit like snowboarding.. When you start you can't figure out how in the world you'll ever do this and then all of a sudden, you are doing it ! The only difference is learning latte art won't break your collarbone. ;-)

Good Luck !



#40: Post by johnlyn »

I'm coming in late to this thread, as many of them because I am a late comer to Home Barista. but this thread has gotten me out of trouble with microfoam and latte art.

in case it becomes useful to others here is what I discovered and learned from this thread:

Practice: obvious for sure, but it is the slow process on noticing what is going on and then one day the learning curve goes BOOM! now I can adjust according to the behaviour of the milk.

Getting the pitcher as close as possible to the surface of the espresso. I can't believe what a difference that made because I was having the same difficulty that started this thread, it would only start whiting at the end when it was too late for art.

with those tips producing microfoam and creating art is a regular occurrence :D

gotta love a coffee community!!