Latte heart in a black Ember Mug that's resting on a cookbook.

A Beginner's Guide: How to Make Latte Art

September 12, 2021

You’ve heard that we eat with our eyes first. And if you’re a fan of latte art, like us, you probably drink with your eyes first, too. So it’s only natural that you’d want to elevate your homemade lattes with the flourish of a rosetta or simple heart design just like your favorite barista. Our Beginner’s Guide to Latte Art can help you get there!

How much coffee should I have in my cup when making latte art?

Your barista usually starts with a double shot of espresso, about 2 oz. If you have an espresso machine at home, do the same. If not, you’ll have to improvise with strongly brewed coffee, about 4 oz max. More than that, and you won’t have adequate room for your steamed milk. Less, and your latte will taste too weak. A Moka pot or Aeropress is ideal here, and they’re great at producing small volumes of very strong coffee, similar to espresso.

How to Make Latte Art

1. Steam or froth 6-8 oz of milk to create a smooth microfoam.

See our in-depth guide to steaming milk for tips on getting the perfect texture. (Note: If you don’t have a steaming wand, you may have a harder time getting the silky texture you’ll need to pour latte art.) After you’ve steamed your milk, tap the metal steaming pitcher firmly on the counter and swirl the milk to break up any bubbles.

2. Start your pour.

Position your pitcher to pour towards the edge of the cup and tilt the cup at a slight angle toward the pitcher. The height and speed of the pour are key. Start a few inches above your cup so that the milk will dive under the surface of the espresso. When it’s about halfway full, move the pitcher in closer and increase the speed of your pour until you start to see white foam forming on top of the espresso. From here, instructions will vary slightly depending on what type of design you want. We recommend beginners start with the heart and rosetta designs.

How to Make a Latte Art Heart

If you want to create a heart, simply continue your pour in the center of the cup until you have a white circle of foam. When the circle has reached the size you want (about 60% of the drink’s surface), raise the pitcher slightly, then pull it backward, drawing a line through the circle and creating a heart.

How to Make a Latte Art Rosetta

To create a rosetta, start your pour about ¾ of the way from the end of the cup, wiggling the pitcher slightly as soon as the foam starts to form on top of the espresso. Let the movement come from your wrist rather than your hand, and don’t overdo it – a little movement is all you need to produce the curves that will make your rosetta. Slowly move the pitcher back, still wiggling, until you’ve reached the end of the cup. Then, raise the pitcher and pull it forward to draw a thin line through the center of the design.

Making Latte Art without a Steaming Wand

As we mentioned, it’s tough to get the right texture for latte art if you don’t have a steaming wand. Other methods for frothing milk can produce a nice-tasting foam, but it will be drier and more prone to separating from the liquid milk. When you attempt to pour, you may notice that after you’ve poured the liquid milk, the foam comes out all at once as a large glob. There are a few ways to work around this.

  • First, avoid over-frothing your milk, creating an excess of dry foam that doesn't pour well.
  • Always tap your steaming pitcher on the counter and swirl the milk to break up large bubbles and create and combine the liquid and foam for a more consistent texture. Some baristas recommend pouring the milk from one pitcher into another to mix it further.
  • Pour quickly, or you risk leaving thick foam behind in the pitcher.
  • “Cheat” by using a toothpick to alter your design after the pour.

To preserve your handiwork, pour your latte art into your Ember Mug². Milk foam dissipates as it cools, so the temperature control will help maintain the milk’s texture and design. And if you prefer plant-based milk, see our Best Non-Dairy Milk for Coffee to learn which ones work best for latte art!

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