Is There a Point to Latte Art?

A great cup of coffee is a work of art in itself, telling the story of the farmers, roasters and baristas who played a part in creating it. For certain coffee drinks, however, a visual accent is added before the beverage is served.

When ordering a latte or a cortado from a third wave coffee shop, you can expect to find a dazzling pattern floating across the top of your drink. This is known as latte art.

While there’s no denying it looks lovely, some wonder “What’s the purpose?” Of course, you could ask what the purpose of any art is, and that could lead to a lengthy, weighty discussion. A simpler way to appreciate latte art is to understand how it’s created.

How Latte Art is Made

Though latte art may look simple, it requires patience, practice and precision. You can’t simply pour milk over an espresso. Both the espresso and the milk must first be prepared accordingly. For the espresso, it needs to be fresh and properly pulled. This creates a foamy layer on top called crema.

Steam is then added to milk, quickly heating it and changing its composition. If done incorrectly, it can scald the milk and create the wrong texture. When done correctly, however, it creates microfoam, which is a lighter and sweeter form of milk.

Finally, the microfoam is carefully placed on top of the crema. Assuming the elements were prepared correctly, the microfoam should stay visible on the surface. This allows the barista to draw patterns as he or she pours. This must be done quickly and confidently, leaving no room for error.

Once the pattern is finished, the beverage is quickly served. Though latte art doesn’t last long, you’ll  have enough time to snap a pic for Instagram.

What Latte Art Means

If you get a coffee drink featuring latte art, you can trust the barista has invested time and effort into learning the craft. Latte art shows an appreciation for coffee and attention to detail. It’s a visual complement, a final flourish declaring the beverage you hold has been prepared with passion.

Still, one thing latte art can’t tell you is where your coffee beans came from or whether they were properly sourced. At 7 Corners Coffee, we work with quality roasters that ensure their farmers are paid livable wages and operate in safe working conditions. The coffee we serve can be easily traced back to its origins so you know exactly how it got to you.

Whether you want to appreciate the intricacies of latte art or you simply need a caffeine boost, stop by our coffee shop in Minneapolis.

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