The Art of Great Coffee is a balance between a mouth watering cup of richly textured coffee and a jaw dropping show of artistic flare. A cup of breathtaking latte art, however, does NOT mean the cup also contains great coffee.
In fact, you can make outstanding art pieces with mediocre milk foam and ‘meh’ tasting coffee.
To-Kill-For-Coffee is a perfection combination of flavorful espresso, rich crema, and smooth micro-foamed milk. Flavorful espresso is a result of perfectly roasted beans – a specific, careful process to suit the specific beans.
Rich crema is derived by perfectly grinding and packing espresso into the portafilter. Then, the right amount of water is pushed through this puck with the right amount of pressure and time to allow bubbly, smooth crema to pour into the cup. Pulling a great tasting shot takes practice, but a beautiful shot makes a perfect base for latte art.
A barista has to work quick to keep the espresso crema. Crema traps the aromatics of the espresso and adds to creamy texture of the coffee, but within a few seconds, the crema begins to dissipate as the oils of the coffee sink into the cup. Also, the less crema that is available, the lighter the art will appear.
Have you had a chance to see and taste great milk foam? There’s a HUGE difference between great milk foam and that bubbly stuff found in Starbucks drinks.
There is a little more than 1/2 inch of microfoam milk in this pitcher. You may be able to spot a few tiny bubbles but it’s hard to tell that the rest is actually microfoam and not milk liquid because the surface is so, so smooth. The fluid flows like wet paint and makes a great surface to etch in fun art – it’s like skating on a newly paved ice rink. Even better, perfectly foamed milk adds a natural sweetness to the coffee and a even more creamy texture to the overall drink.
Microfoam milk does add a little bit of 3D structure to the coffee, but like crema, milk foam also dissipates quickly as the liquid milk falls away from the bubbles, decreasing the amount of foam and smoothing out the surface. “Crunchy”, not sweet milk foam is needed to create that viral 3D latte art. I don’t make “crunchy” milk foam – I really enjoy the texture and sweetness that great microfoam milk offers.
Timing is so important for both latte art and well-textured, flavourful coffee. A great barista who understands and pushes for great coffee ensures that the drinker will enjoy a fantastic, unforgettable cup of coffee.
I love creating latte art, but I also make sure coffee quality is the first priority.