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Original Article by Sirena Van Schaik

I have always loved coffee, and I can actually trace my love affair back to the age of 14 when I would sneak the occasional cup of coffee at my mom's restaurant when I was working. This long love probably explains why I am so short, both of my parents reached heights of 5'11 (mom) and 6 feet (dad) and I capped out at 5'5. Of course, it may not explain it at all.

With that interesting little tidbit aside, a great cup of coffee is truly a work of art. There is something so sublime about the aroma that drifts from the cup in lazy circles of steam and there is a beauty in the first sip that graces the tongue. Art in liquid form.

altOf course, once you have experienced the beauty of Latte Art, you will truly understand how coffee can transcend the typecast of a good cup of coffee and become something that is truly amazing.

But how do they do it? How do they create a beautiful heart in the center of your espresso? How do they make faces and solar systems shine on the surface of your coffee?

I would love to tell you that it is easy but like all arts, it is something that needs to be learned and practiced. But don't worry, this little how to will provide you with a start to creating your own Latte Art.

Making Your Masterpiece:

When you make a latte art, you should start with a freshly brewed espresso in a decorated mug. You will be using the steamed milk from your espresso machine but it is important to prepare the milk in the proper manner to create a velvet milk that is smooth. You do not want the milk to be foamy.

To do this, you should use enough milk for one cup of coffee. Place the milk into the steam pitcher and place it on the steam wand. You should have the steam wand touching the bottom of the pitcher to start but you will begin raising the steam wand as you steam the milk. This should be a slow and gradual lift until you are about 1 cm away from the top. Make sure you do not create any bubbles while you are steaming. Bubbles will destroy the overall texture of the milk and create more of a foam.

Once your milk reaches 80°F, you will need to place the steam wand back into the milk but position it so the wand is against the side and the pitcher is spun in a counter clockwise motion. Heat the milk to 150°F before you remove the pitcher from the steam wand.

Now that you milk is hot enough, you will want to stir the milk vigorously, in a swirling motion, to remove any bubbles and to create the velvety texture.

Now your milk is ready for pouring into your espresso. When you are pouring, you will want to pour the milk into the cup until it is about half full. At this point, you should begin shaking the pitcher, using only your wrist, to help build up the milk in the area you are creating.

Once you have the milk on the surface, you can use a pin to create a pattern in the milk. You can also use syrups, and powders to add details to your latte design or you can use stencils to make pre-formed designs.

The options are endless but once you know how to make and pour the milk, you can quickly pick up on the other tips of the trade.