When you are wanting to make upmarket latte art, then you first of all need to think about getting some quality ingredients. But, is it just the coffee you use that defines how well your latte art will turn out or is it more - the milk, the type of cup, the machinery?

Here, we'll consider what kind of ingredients and tools you might need when creating good latte art.

Things That Impact Your Coffee Art

First things first, before we move onto the actual products and machinery you should rush out to buy when wishing to make latte art, let's look at some things that only you can control when making your coffee look special.

As we know from our previous posts, the Rosetta is the most popular style of latte art in the UK. But these three things can seriously impact how your design turns out:

Speed of pouring

The speed at which you pour your milk from the jug or pitcher will affect your latte art. So, depending on what kind of design you are trying to create and which tutorial you are following, you will want to adjust how fast or how slow you pour. The speed will create either a more liquid-rich solution or will add texture.

Proximity of pour/height

The height at which you put your milk is also sure to affect how your milk meets with the espresso. For instance, the farther you pour from the surface of the coffee, the better the milk will go under the surface and the closer you put the spout to the coffee the more white foamy milk is going to sit on the top of the coffee's surface (your paint, as it were).

Location of pour

This does not mean which room you are pouring your coffee in or where about in the world you are (although if you happen to be in a popular coffee bean zone then that may indeed go in your favour!)! This point refers to where inside the cup you are pouring. Some tutorials indicate you should pour to the side of the cup, some in the middle, and some you have to move the spout around to design the image.

The Best Products for Latte Art

We've found out that there are some factors that will affect your latte art skills, but there are a few tangible factors that make a difference in your latte art, too.

For instance, you simply cannot expect to create a masterpiece using sub-standard products or tools. That would be like Picasso using Crayola crayons on a sheet of basic printer paper.

Take note of the tips below for making the best latte art.

You need a few staple pieces to make good latte art.
Making professional-quality latte art needs professional or very good equipment. Photo credit: nalundgaard on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

The milk

You can use any type of milk you like when making a coffee, but the creamier the better when it comes to latte art so, ideally, full-fat milk is a popular option. Some even add a dollop of cream in their coffee to give it that added texture!

What about those who have milk allergies? Well, there are all sorts of other alternatives that can be used like soya milk, almond milk and more, however, the consistency of these may not be quite the same.

The key, however, to perfect latte art is to steam the milk correctly. You want your milk to look like silky paint when you pour it, and here's how.

You want to create a whirlpool effect when you are steaming, so submerge the wand, tilt the jug slightly and watch all the bubbles come to the surface and made your milk silky smooth!

Remember: for cappuccino art, you need slightly more foam so want more air when steaming.

Finally, getting the temperature right is a deal-breaker - get your milk to between 50 and 60 degrees for latte heaven!

The coffee

Latte, by definition, is more of a milk drink than a coffee drink so the main consideration is the milk.

That said, the body of the coffee needs to stand up to the frothy milk so you are best off using medium coffee blends, and preferably freshly ground beans. You can use a form of powdered coffee, however, you may not get the authentic taste you are after and like those from coffee shops where the coffee beans are freshly roasted and ground.

Latin Coffee Beans are some of the most popular types of coffee beans.
Freshly roasted and then ground coffee beans produce the best espresso for doing latte art with. Photo on Visualhunt

Latin American beans are a great and popular option among coffee shops, but you can find a range of coffee beans from other areas such as Italy which are formulated for espressos. If you know your coffee, then you will understand what we mean when we say that you need a coffee that can offer a good crema under pressure.

The most common flavours of coffee for latte are those with chocolate, nutty or caramel undertones.

There are many decisions to make when buying coffee, but once of the most important things is accessibility. Do you want a coffee that you can buy from your local supermarket or are you happy order it from an online specialist?

Ground coffee

You can find a range of ground coffee sold in packs at most supermarkets (note this is different from instant coffee).

For example: Illy Classico Medium Roast, Taylors of Harrogate, Spiller & Tate Signature Blend.

Of course, any coffee connoisseur will know that all coffees differ in their flavour, brewing method and price. You may need to do some research and get out there and do some tasting if you want to find your coffee match.

Fresh beans

If you have a fancier coffee machine with a grinder, or if you have a separate grinder, then using fresh beans will no doubt enhance your coffee and you'll soon notice the difference. The smell, the texture, the taste... coffee is made to be freshly ground. But, be sure to check the date of your beans' roasting as he fresher the better.

Companies like Rave Coffee, for example, pride themselves on roasting your coffee only days before the beans are posted to you so you know you have optimum freshness. Some full bean coffees bought from shops may have been roasted weeks or more in advance and sitting on a shelf.

Remember, if you sign up to a specialist coffee creator then you have way more options and you can also find subscriptions that enable you to try out different blends from different regions as well as coffee beans with different brewing methods on a postal order basis.

The best coffee machines

As much as we'd love to say that cheap coffee machines can still allow you to create great latte art, the fact is that you really need to upgrade to a Bean-to-Cup machine if you want to create latte art like the pros. Of course, you don't need a massive one that takes up the whole worktop, just a home version will do the trick!

Below, we have researched a couple of the best Bean-To-Cup coffee machines on the market, but note that there are lots more and also you may find one that suits your needs better.

Sage Barista Express Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine

"Developed by Sage, the Barista Express is here to give you the ultimate cup of coffee. Designed on the principle that ingredients taste better when fresh, the Barista Express prevents degradation of the quality of beans by grinding them directly into the filter for you, to extract their full flavour. The whole process, from bean to coffee, takes less than a minute." - John Lewis

This bean to cup machine makes freshly-ground coffee in the form of espresso, latte, cappuccino and more in a barista style. The 2L machine makes around 67 cups of espresso.

Different coffee machines offer different positives.
Sage and De Longhi are two of the top coffee machine manufacturers. Photo credit: coffee-rank on VisualHunt / CC BY

De'Longhi ESAM2200 Venezia Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine

"A versatile and sleekly styled coffee machine from De'Longhi.
Make one of two cups at the press of a button
Use the steam wand to top up your Espresso and make a smooth Americano
Frothing nozzle to make cappucino, lattes, flat whites and more
Removable water reservoir - holds enough water for 12 cups before refilling" - John Lewis

This machine makes freshly-ground coffee in the form of espresso, latte, Americano and more in a barista style.

The 1L machine makes around 33 cups of espresso.

Additional Tools for Creating Latte Art

In addition to the main ingredients and the essential machinery needed to make coffees, you can also purchase specialist latte art pens to help craft your designs. These are available at online retailers like Amazon and these can seriously add the wow factor to your latte art.

In addition, if you want to add a new depth to your coffee design skills then you could opt for a stencil set. Stencil sets are great for adding seasonal images or personalised notes as you can use them easily. Use powdered chocolate on top of your latte to create a wonderful Cappuccino!

Now the fun part, go ahead and try out some coffees and latte art yourself!

If you want to check out some tutorials to try out at home, click here!

If you are interested in a professional Latte Art course, try this blog!

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Laura

Laura is a Francophile with a passion for literature and linguistics. She also loves skiing, cooking and painting.