Latte art is a respected skill in the world of coffee, one which seems deceptively simple, yet requires precision, skill and a whole lot of practice!
It is believed that latte art was an American craze that began around the mid 80’s, started by a man named David Schomer, although Italian, Luigi Lupi, has also been documented as performing latte art around the same time. He perfected the heart shape in 1989 stating, “I worked at pulling the action away from the back of the cup, sneaking milk down the sides to form swirls and hoping white foam would appear as a heart at the centre.”
How this became possible, was the realisation that latte art was due the science of the milk. Micro-foam, is milk which has been foamed through the adding of steam to the milk, which alters the physical characteristics of the milk. In a process called denaturing this causes air bubbles that are small and numerous to be formed in the steamed milk, which can be felt on the palate (but not seen), the texture often being described as something like liquid velvet. This process is entirely dependent on steaming the milk to the correct temperature, and the technique of the barista to ensure air is added and correctly.
However, attending latte art training is always an option, and definitely recommended. Many cafes as well as coffee roasteries offer this training to not only baristas but also to anyone who wants to hone in their coffee skills.
Who knows practice hard enough and we might see your name entered in one of the many latte art competitions around the world.