The first thing that you need to know about is a few espresso extraction techniques. This is what you’re going to be pouring the milk into. If you don’t have a good shot of espresso, you’re going to have a hard time pouring some clearly defined art into your coffee.
There are four basic things that go into pulling the perfect shot of espresso. The most important thing to keep in mind is the dosage. The dose refers to the amount of coffee that’s going into the shot. It’s important to have a good and consistent dose of espresso so that you get the same amount of coffee going into your cup every time.
Weigh The Dose of Coffee
Begin by filling the ¾ of the basket, overfill it and then scrape across with a knife. If you’re new to making latte art, I suggest that you weigh the dose. It’s important that it’s consistent for every single cup. That will really help you dial in your espresso shots.
Make The Distribution Even
The next thing you should do is to make sure that your distribution is even. The amount of coffee that is in your pack should be evenly distributed within the basket. Be sure to tamp it again straight down.
Consistency is a big thing! Make sure that you have the same routine so that the amount of coffee in there is distributed evenly. You should always tamp with the same amount of pressure each time.
These tips will lead you towards a consistent extraction. If you put the same effort going in, you get the same result coming out!
Use The Right Time And Amount of Extraction
Once you’ve tapped the coffee, you’re ready to extract. There are two things with your extraction that are the main things you want to control. Those are the time of extraction is going for and the amount of liquid which is coming out. This is called the «yield». If you get these things right, it’ll mean that you have a nice flow rate for your espresso. This will ensure that it won’t be running through too quickly and it won’t be running through too slowly. If you’re new to this, a good time to get you started is between 25 and 30 seconds. This obviously depends on the coffee that you’re using. I usually go for an extraction yield which is about two times the amount of dose going in. That means if the dose is 21 grams going in, you should get around 42 grams coming out. The amount of coffee that you dose in and the ration you out will depend on the coffee and the equipment you’re using.
If your shot is pulling a little bit too quickly, it means that the coffee is too coarse. That, in turn, means that the water is not really restricted when it’s flowing through, and it’s flying into the cup. What you should do in this situation is the make your grind a little bit finer to slow down that flow rate conversely.
If your shot is really restricted and extracting really slowly, it means that your grind is a little bit too fine. You need to caution up that grind to ease the pressure and allow it to flow through a little bit quicker.
If you don’t dose consistently, the amount of coffee that goes into your basket will also affect how quickly or slowly the water flows through the coffee. In the end, it’s all about taste and what you like the flavor of so to say.
Taste Your Coffee
Taste your coffee! When you find the coffee that you really like, make sure that you know what those parameters for extraction are for next time. If you’re noticing that your coffee is channeling or flying down one side of the puck, just remember to get your distribution really good and tamp nice and straight down.
There are other variables that I haven’t mentioned, namely temperature and pressure. Most home equipment doesn’t have the ability to change that kind of stuff, so we’re not going into that in this article. If you’re using coffee that’s over a month old, you’ll probably see that the crema just gets really sticky and when you start to pour. The pattern is «sinking» into the crema and will not be as defined as if you had used freshly roasted coffee.
How To Texture The Milk
Using freshly roasted coffee that’s about a week after the roadside will make the creme settle down a little bit, but it won’t be sticky and it will definitely help you to pour nice patterns into the surface of the crema. Be sure to texture your milk well to about 60 to 65 degrees Celsius.
Start off with cold milk. Full crema is going to be the easiest to use, but you can use any milk you like. When you’re pouring that milk in, just pour it to the bottom of the base of that spout on your jug. You need to use the right jug for the coffee that you’re going to make.
Use the right jug
A 400 mil jug is good for one regular-sized coffee cup. If you plan to make two coffees, then you need to use a bigger jug. Don’t try to overfill or underfill the jug that you’re using to make your coffee.
The next thing you need to do is to think about the coffee that you’re going to make before you start texturing the milk. Whether it’s going to be a flat light or a latte which needs a little bit of microfoam or you want to make cappuccino which needs a bit more frothy of milk. This is so that you have a plan of attack of how you’re going to texture it before you get started.
When you’ve decided which coffee you’re going to make, you need to think about how much air that you will be adding into you jug. Whether it’s a flat wide flash latte, you need to add about a centimeter and a couple of centimeters if it’s a cappuccino.
Steam the milk the right way
Now it’s time to get that steam working for you. I like to put the spouts just a little bit off-center. If you put it right in the middle, think about where that steam is going to end up. It’s going to end up pushing down and then up through the milk and it’s not going to create that nice whirlpool that you want. If you put it slightly on an angle to the side, you can see how that steam is going to push around and create a nice even whirlpool. This get your milk silky and shiny.
The next thing you want to do is to dump the steam tip just below the surface so that it doesn’t splash up on you or when you started and then turn the steam on full.
Adding air to the milk
To add air to your milk, you just drop the jug slowly and gently so that the tip of the steam wand is on the surface of the milk and you’ll hear the sucking is down, letting you know that you’re adding air to your milk. Keep that steam on the surface until you’ve added the desired amount of air. Remembering that if you’re making a cappuccino, you’ll have to slowly lower the jug so that the steam tip stays on the surface and then once you’ve added all the air, just move the jug up ever so slightly so that the steam tip is just below the surface. Remember to keep heat in the same area so that the whirlpool keeps going the whole time.
You want to add all of the air before the milk starts to get warm. That way, the whirlpool will have time to combine all of that air into your milk and you’ll get that silky microphone.
Watch the whirlpool carefully! Make sure you don’t add any more air at all and keep tapping the side of the jug with your other hand as it gets just too hot to touch. It’s fine to use a milk thermometer! The temperature we’re aiming at is 60 to 65 degrees Celsius. The first thing you do when you finish texturing your milk is to put the jug down, wipe the steam and give it a purge to clean it out. If you have any bubbles in your milk, you can give it a slight tap on the counter to knock those out and give it a swirl before you’re ready to pour.
Pouring the coffee
Once you’ve texted your milk and pulled your shot, you really want to get working and pouring that coffee as quickly as possible. The reason being that if coffee sits, the creme will kind of get really sticky again and also the milk. The textured milk will start to separate and it’s going to be a lot harder to pour your latte. Once those two things have happened, another quick tip is to give your milk jug and your espresso shot a little bit of a swirl just before you go to pour and it will free things up a little bit as you go to pour.
The next thing you want to make sure that you’re doing when you’re setting your crema is to make sure that there’s no white on the canvas before you start pouring your pour. That will make sure you have some really nice contrast between the crema. You can hide any of the white that has appeared on the top of your canvas by pouring from a little bit more of a height and that will make it push below the surface of the crema so that you can pour on your nice brown canvas. The next two things that will make sure your latte art have really nice symmetry and harmony.
Make the art symmetrical
Symmetry and latte art is just like anything else. You want to make sure that one side of the cup looks exactly the same as the other side of the cup. The best way to do this is to make sure that when you’re pouring, you’re pouring directly into the center of the cup. As you pour your pattern, you’re making sure that you’ve followed down the center line of that cup each time. If you start pouring to one side of the cup, it might look a little bit off. The result that you actually get in the cup won’t look as nice as if you have that pattern dead in the center. The harmony refers to how that pattern fits within the cup. Basically, you want to make sure that the latte art is not too small or too big. You should try to aim to have it about a centimeter around the outside of the pattern where it’s just that a crema kind of ring before the edge of the cup.
The last thing after you’ve mastered all of those little tips is to get a little bit creative and try and do a few things which are a little bit different to what you see in latte art from day to day.