We believe that properly steamed and poured milk compliments espresso coffee greatly, and brings out even more flavours hidden inside the roasted coffee bean.
In Attendant we love latte art as well. And, while you can’t taste the art, you can still taste whether the milk has been poured properly. If you can master the technique of proper pouring, it shouldn’t be too hard to learn some free pour latte art. In our opinion, latte art is the barista’s signature on the coffee cup as a promise that the drink is going to taste good.
Fill your milk pitcher to just below the pouring spout.
Purge the steam wand. It is important to do this before and after each time you use it to get rid of all the water condensation in the steam wand, and any milk residue that might be left in the steam tip after using the steam wand.
Insert the steam tip below the surface of the milk about 1cm deep. Make sure all the holes on the tip are submerged before opening the steam valve.
Open the steam valve all the way and slowly lower the pitcher to expose the steam to the surface of the milk. You will start hearing a slight hissing noise(some describe it as paper tearing sound). This is the steam touching the surface of your milk, putting air molecules in your milk, making the milk gain volume. Do this until the milk reaches your body temperature (around 37 degrees).
Once the milk has reached your body temperature, submerge the tip of the steam wand in your milk. By submerging the steam holes under the milk you stop creating more foam. At this point, you are heating the milk up to the proper temperature to mix it with your espresso. It is important to stop creating foam after the milk reaches your body temperature because that’s when all the butterfat molecules go from solid to liquid state. Simply put, the fat turns into oil. If you continue to produce foam beyond this point, you will no longer be able to get the smooth and silky microfoam. Instead, you will create bubbles of air you won’t be able to get rid off after.
After producing your microfoam, you need to mix it in the pitcher with liquid milk for a smooth and creamy finish. You do this by spinning the foamy milk in your pitcher with the help of steam. You’re really doing two jobs at once here, as you are also heating the milk up to the perfect 58 to 61-degree temperature. Place the steam wand in an angle pointed towards yourself and move it slightly off centre. If you picture the surface of the pitcher split into four quadrants, it is best to leave the steam tip in the lower right quadrant. This will make the milk spin clockwise, creating the whirlpool effect.
After you’re done steaming the milk, before doing anything else, you must clean the leftover milk from the steam wand. This is easiest to do with a slightly damp microfiber cloth. After cleaning all of the milk off the wand, purge some steam through the holes once again to remove any milk left inside the wand.
Your milk should be shiny and smooth after steaming it, however, if you see any air bubbles on the surface of your milk, you can break these apart by tapping the base of your pitcher on the countertop. Do not bang it too hard or too many times, as this causes the microfoam to break apart, and layer the milk in foam and liquid parts. If you can’t break all the air bubbles by lightly tapping the pitcher on the counter, that means your milk has not been steamed properly and needs to be re-done.
Swirl your milk jug to incorporate the foam in the milk. In the few seconds time you’ve taken to clean the steam wand after using it and breaking any air bubbles, your milk has already started to layer. You need to make sure the milk is the same consistency throughout. This is achieved by swirling the pitcher, creating a little whirlpool in it. It is easiest to do by keeping the base of the pitcher on the countertop, not holding it in the air, and moving your wrist in a tight small circle.
At this point, you are ready to pour your milk in espresso.
For some reason, people tend to forget how important this step really is. The milk needs to be mixed in evenly throughout the espresso, so it is important to not rush yourself while pouring a drink. If the milk is poured in the cup too fast, it doesn’t mix with your shot, and, while drinking, you can feel the layers of milk microfoam, and espresso crema, which create conflicting flavours.
Take your cup with espresso, and lightly tap all the bubbles our on the countertop. Sometimes espresso extracting from a greater distance to the cup creates small splattering, and if you don’t pop the small bubbles, they will be visible in your coffee even after the milk has been poured. Remember to keep your milk in the pitcher spinning right until you are ready to pour it.
Start tilting the cup in an angle and putting the pouring spout of your pitcher close to the espresso. You must start closer to the espresso, to avoid splattering.
Start pouring slowly, and raise the pitcher spout up. Try keeping it in about 10cm distance to the crema of your espresso.
At this point, you need to mix the milk in with your espresso. Move your pitcher in a circle to do this. You can also alter the height of the spout a little bit, if that makes it easier for you. You need to create a canvas for your latte art, meaning the surface of the coffee in your cup needs to be the same tone and colour throughout, and you shouldn’t see any striping from your espresso or poured milk. This is achieved by something called “chasing the white” which means you are looking for white lines or spots on the surface of your coffee and going over them with a thin stream while pouring your milk from a greater distance. When thinning the stream of your pour and pouring from higher up, you push the milk under the crema, instead of leaving it on top of it. You are also pushing the white spots and espresso striping under the surface when going over them with the stream.
When your cup is about two thirds full and the surface of the coffee in the cup is nice and even, you have mixed the espresso and milk correctly, and are now ready to create free pour latte art with your pitcher.
When pouring latte art, the main things you need to master are height, and speed of your pour, and the balance between them. If poured to slow, you won’t be able to get the movement you need to create latte art, if you pour from too high up, your pattern will sink.
To pour a heart, lower the spout of the pouring pitcher close to the crema. Still keep your cup in an angle, as this allows you to get closer to the surface. Slightly increase the speed of your pour and you’ll see a crisp white bulb appearing on the surface of your coffee. At this point you can level the cup, raise your pitcher and push a thinner stream of milk slowly through the white bulb, cutting it in half. This will make the shape of a heart. It is important to stay in the middle of the cup’s surface with your stream while levelling the cup, and while raising the pitcher up for a thinner stream. Be careful not to pull your hand back even a little bit, as this seems to be the problem most often when learning how to pour a heart.
You can use this same technique to pour a slightly more complicate tulip pattern. When making the first bulb, don’t cut through it with the milk stream. Instead, stop the pour and move the pitcher back a tiny bit before starting to pour again. Then you need to push another bulb slightly inside the first one. You can do several times until your cup is almost full. At this point, you need to raise the pitcher for a thinner stream again and cut through the whole pattern.
To pour a rosetta move the pitcher close to the surface of your coffee, just like when pouring a heart or tulip. Then start rocking the pitcher left to right with a rapid but controlled movement. When you start seeing white lines appear in your cup, start pulling the pouring pitcher back towards the rim of the cup. This will create a zig-zag like pattern in your coffee. The next step is the same as it is for all these patterns, raise the pitcher again, and cut through.
By combining the techniques used by pouring these three patterns, you can create hundreds of different pours. Use your imagination to create your own patterns.