One of the coolest things that coffee can offer you is this literally consumable art.

Coffee art, barista art, or coffee designs – you may call it differently but familiar images pop up in your mind: a beautiful swan or an elegant flower on top of your espresso.

This is internally the infusion of steamed milk and the traditional Italian espresso to create different desired patterns – resulting in a sweet, zestful art. Some awesome designs include flower, swan, heart, and the most popular rosetta, a fern-like design.

Coffee Latte and the Art Challenge

When did it start?

In the 1980’s, David Schomer, the owner of Seattle’s Espresso Vivace coffee shop was the first to bring out the latte art in the US. For the development of micro foam or milk texturing, Schomer gives credit to Jack Kelly of Seattle coffee shop Uptown Espresso in 1986.

With the perfect combination of the textured milk and espresso, Schomer first worked on his technique of free pouring. He poured the textured milk and used the sides of the cup to form whirl and waves and then finally completed the heart shape by 1989.

What is Free Pour Latte Art?

The process boils down to science because of the proportional relationship and fluid dynamics of milk meeting espresso at the same time. Before you pour in the steamed milk on top of your espresso, you make sure to form a foundation of the milk on the bottom, first. This way, you won’t get a tidal wave of milk swarming your espresso.

After which, that’s the time to pour the foam and start your art. Remember to stroke your hands carefully, create your pattern skillfully and pour the foam slowly to perfect your free pour.

This could be a frustrating process but with impeccable dedication and perseverance, patience and practice, all the beauty in your art will be worth it.

What is Etching Latte Art?

Unlike free pour latte art which requires technical skill, this one entails authentic artistic skills. Etching is a technique where baristas will draw an image or a desired design using a thin stick like a toothpick, on top of the steamed milk after pouring it.

Different images like anime characters, animals, or symbols like heart, flower and the rosetta could be formed using this technique. Just like the free pour, this one may also be challenging.

However, this art makes your coffee look equally creative and tasteful.

Coffee Latte Art Competitions

Latte art competitions nowadays, are very popular and competitive. In the US, baristas from all over the world compete to showcase their skill and talent to bring out the most beautiful coffees. The World Coffee Events organizes this competition to highlight this newfangled art and provide a more challenging and creative platform of expression for baristas.

The competition has three rounds where the competitors will be judged on both free pour and etching. The contestant who will get the top score in the final round will emerge as the winner.

The ultimate challenge

The crucial part of this art is the pouring itself. An aspiring coffee artist or even an experienced barista is always challenged by the protocol of height, position, flow and control for the success of this cutting-edge latte art.

Today, these designs have become a standard part for baristas. Recently, latte arts develop into 3D designs and some restoration of famous literary work of arts. So, whether you’re a resident barista or a newbie, explore more creative ways to give that espresso shot an exciting pour.