Latte art, also known as microfoam art, is a beautiful way to finish off your coffee preparation for an indulgent cup of coffee that makes you feel good any time of the day. It's also a great way to pamper your family and friends or to serve as an impressive end to a decadent dinner party.
Microfoam art is typically seen on top of cappuccinos and lattes, which are traditionally made using espresso as opposed to regular coffee. However, if you are not a fan of espresso, or you find its caffeine effects too strong, or not strong enough, you may want to opt for a regular coffee instead.
For this reason, a frequently asked question is, “can you make latte art with regular coffee,” and the answer is yes. But be warned, making latte art with regular coffee will also result in a longer preparation process because it eliminates the need espresso machine; therefore, you have to froth the milk separately.
Espresso vs Regular Coffee
Coffee beans specifically marketed as espresso are generally roasted for a longer period than the beans used to make regular coffee, producing dark, almost black, shiny beans. The beans are packaged for use in espresso machines. However, espresso can also be made using the same beans used to make regular coffee.
Espresso is also brewed using stream pressure that pushes the water through the coffee grounds. In doing so, it produces an oily, rich coffee with an intense flavor, which is why it is usually served as a shot as opposed to the large, steamy cup of coffee many are accustomed to.
On the other hand, regular coffee is simply brewed using hot water that saturates the coffee grounds and then slow drips the coffee down into a coffee pot or mug, producing a milder, less noticeable flavor as compared to espresso.
Espresso's caffeine effect also hits you stronger and quicker than when slowly sipping a hot cup of regular coffee, which is also why many people turn to it when they need an instant energy boost. However, it does have less caffeine than regular coffee, 90 to 100 milligrams of caffeine per 1.5 ounces as compared to 128 milligrams of caffeine in a standard cup of regular coffee.
Why Espresso is Traditionally Used to Make Latte Art
As stated earlier, the way espresso is brewed, produces a stronger, intense flavor than regular coffee. However, when steamed milk is added to it, it helps balance out the flavor.
Adding steamed milk to espresso to help balance the flavor, eventually became known as a latte, which is simply Italian for coffee with milk, while adding frothed milk to espresso to help balance the flavor, eventually became known as a cappuccino.
Then, sometime throughout the process of adding steamed milk and milk froth to espresso, an Italian coffee maker named Luigi Lupi began experimenting with the milk froth, creating the first latte art on espresso, which began with the heart design.
Soon after, during the 1980s, the trend made its way to the United States, where it was then expounded upon by another espresso maker named David Schomer, who further developed the heart shape.
Today, latte art has become an essential step to making lattes and cappuccinos and can be observed in many specialty coffee shops around the world. In fact, there are even latte art championships, including a world competition and a National U.S. competition. There is even 3D latte art, which features 3-dimensional designs of various animals, cartoon characters, and more. However, latte art serves many purposes beyond just being visually pleasing, including:
Improves the Taste of Espresso
Milk is made up of fat, proteins, and sugar, so when you steam it, the fat and sugars breakdown into simpler sugars, which gives the milk a sweeter taste. Hence, when you add it to the bitter taste of espresso, it also helps make the espresso taste sweeter. However, there is a science as to how to add the milk should be added to experience the improved taste.
Some coffee aficionados warn that simply adding latte art to espresso without steamed milk can lead to a bitter taste when taking your first sip, and the latte art just sitting on the top of the espresso can lead to gulps of pure froth, which can also ruin the taste.
Instead, to get a balanced, well-rounded flavor, experts suggest that you pour the steamed milk into the espresso first and then stir it in to get it thoroughly mixed, which will help balance the bitter taste, and then finish with foam to create the design.
Related Article: 15 COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN STEAMING MILK
It Improves the Sensory/Flavor Experience
A good cup of coffee has a favorable aroma that ignites the senses and makes you perceive it as tasty, which in turn makes you want to slow down and savor the coffee while taking in the surroundings.
According to research, beautiful latte art also ignites the senses, which also makes you perceive the coffee as good. Hence, adding latte art to your coffee can also improve the sensory experience.
It Implies a Quality Cup of Coffee
Think about it, when you order a cappuccino or latte at a fancy coffee shop, where a great deal of importance is placed on providing the best coffee possible, and it comes with latte art, you instantly associate it with quality.
Furthermore, it has been shown that good presentation enhances the quality and taste of food. Therefore, when you make latte art with coffee at home, it not only gives the perception that your coffee tastes good, but it also implies that you put a lot of effort into making it. So whether you are making it for your spouse, family, or friends, they will assume they are getting a well-made cup of coffee that also tastes great.
How to Make Latte Art With Regular Coffee
Making espresso with latte art typically requires an espresso maker; however, to make latte art with regular coffee, no espresso machine is needed. But, since the coffee will not be brewed using the espresso method, keep in mind, it will not provide the same pronounced coffee flavor that espresso with latte art is known for.
However, it is possible to still enjoy a strong coffee taste by choosing a darker or stronger roast coffee, or you can use an Aeropress machine, which enables you to make coffee strong enough to mimic the taste of espresso.
To make latte art with a regular coffee:
- Brew Regular Coffee
Brew a cup or pot of regular coffee using a typical coffee machine, or if you want a stronger coffee, use an Aeropress machine to make the coffee. Pour the coffee into your favorite mug.
- Steam and Froth the Milk
Fill a microwave-safe jar with a lid halfway with milk. Place the lid securely on the jar. Now shake the jar vigorously until the milk becomes frothy and doubles in volume.
Remove the lid from the jar and then place the jar into the microwave. Warm the frothy milk for about 30 seconds. Or, you could use a milk frother to froth the milk.
- Add the Heated Milk to the Coffee
Pour as much of the heated milk into the coffee, using a spoon to prevent the froth from going in.
- Finish with Your Favorite Latte Art
Lower the jar until it is close to the coffee. Starting from the back of the cup, start pouring the remainder of milk and milk foam into the cup while moving your wrist from side to side until a design appears on the surface of the coffee.
Garnish the design with a sprinkle of nutmeg or cocoa. Enjoy!
Try a different way to froth your milk:
What is the Best Type of Milk to Use For Latte Art
Whole milk, because of its high-fat content, produces the most decadent, smooth taste
in the coffee; however, because it has such a high-fat content, when it comes to making the froth, it can be more challenging. Therefore, if you are not an expert in making froth, it will take some practice to perfect froth using whole milk.
On the other hand, fat-free milk and skim milk produce the largest foam bubbles, and they are also easier to achieve milk froth for coffee makers of all levels. However, the absence of fat in the milk creates a more light and airy froth as opposed to the rich, decadent foam of whole milk, so it won't taste as rich in your coffee.
2% milk will also froth well, it provides a creamier flavor than nonfat milk, but other kinds of milk, such as soy milk and lactose-free milk, may be the hardest of all to achieve milk froth, and when they do, the froth doesn't last as long.
How Can I Learn to Make Different Latte Art Designs?
The best way to learn to make different latte art designs is by experimenting with various pours to come up with different creations, perhaps maybe even your own signature design, which is sure to impress your guests, and then practice them often until you perfect them.
However, if you are really serious about learning latte art, various cafes also offer latte art classes. Sometimes local culinary arts schools or specialty markets, and more, will also offer latte art instruction, so check for a venue near you.
Can I Add Latte Art to Other Drinks?
Latte art can be used for just about any beverage that uses steamed milk or milk foam, including hot chocolate and tea lattes. It can even be used when making cold brew coffee, iced lattes, and iced cappuccinos; however, you will use cold milk froth, as opposed to hot milk froth, which is made by simply frothing cold milk.
Related Article: WHAT IS A SKINNY LATTE?