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Latte Art

The art of steaming milk and espresso

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You can tell if a barista is any good by judging how she/he makes foam.

  • Feb 8, 2009
  • by
As a barista, I have found that there is nothing worse than paying $3.50 for a Latte or Cappuccino, and getting bad foam. If you are paying this much for a drink, you should get what you want and you have the right to get the drink you ordered.
What is bad foam? 
Bad foam is when there are bubbles in the foam. This means, that 1) you are getting old foam that was made minutes before it was placed on your coffee or 2) the barista held the steamer to high above the milk and produced bad foam, but is in too much of a hurry to remake the foam.
What is good foam?
Good foam should be so smooth that it should pass through the small slot in the to-go coffee lid. You should also be able to see the espresso swirled in the foam if you remove the lid. To make good foam, you must start with cold milk, therefore it is not uncommon for a barista to be rushing and attempt to make foam with already hot milk. This is where you run into foam problems.
My advice? Find a barista who can make your drink just how you like it. This way when you tip (which is greatly appreciated, even if it's 5 cents), you know exactly what you are getting and you will not be unsatisfied with your drink. Therefore, once you find a good barista, stick with them. Sometimes going to get coffee when the line is long- you are setting yourself up for a rushed barista, who will not be able to take the time to make your drink how it should be made. 

Fun tip: Many people do not like to add the extra calories found in whipped cream. Any easy and just as delicious replacement? Order foam on top of your drink (whether it be a chai, mocha, white mocha, or regular coffee) and mix in one packet of Splenda. Mix it into the foam evenly and sip. It's sweet and refreshing- and with a lot fewer calories!

Good luck and enjoy your foam! :)

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January 21, 2010
I recently got my own espresso machine, and have been experimenting with this. It's a lot harder than most people would think! Thanks for this review. I've seen some amazing latte art. Did you know that there is a latte art printing machine?
October 09, 2009
HAHA this is a good review! It brings me back to my days of being a barista at Starbucks. You are totally right about bad foam. I had no idea what people were talking about when they would tell me that, but it's one of those things you figure out with barista experience!
June 13, 2009
It's so ironic that you wrote this because I was just having a "foam" discussion with my husband. I like a lot of foam and that is, by the way, how I judge a good barista. Where do I have to go to find one.....Italy?? The last three times I ordered a Latte....(I won't say where, although the first half of the word rhymes with "car") there was absolutely no foam at all. The drink was handed to me in less than 20 seconds, so I knew it was a no-talent barista. I have since quite this Star, I mean car place and have moved on to an independent coffee house. The foam on the first few drinks was just fine (like you described), but after that, the old habit of foamless appeared again. What's a girl to do?? On a serious note, thanks for this review....it's so good and I so enjoyed reading it.....love the pic too.....yummy!
February 18, 2009
I love foam, but have never known the complexities of it. This was a good read, thank you!
February 09, 2009
I've never seen the designs in them! How fun!! I've started asking for no foam/wet lattes .. sometimes I'll pick up the cup and it's so light cuz it's all foam! Can I ask for light foam? Is that weird? haha, like.. light whip? haha.
February 08, 2009
I've tried making foam with an espresso machine before, and yeah, it is tough. You really have to position the steamer in a certain way, then roll it. It takes an experienced barista to make it!
More Latte Art reviews
Quick Tip by . February 07, 2010
posted in Awesomeness
I don't even like lattes, but this is just too cool. I wonder if there are lessons you can take to learn how to go about it... Anyone know?
Quick Tip by . February 07, 2010
While the process is much more difficult than it looks, the results are beautiful & fun to look at. It's even more fun to try it yourself!
About the reviewer
Nicole Horn ()
Ranked #350
Hi! Myname is Nicole. I am still a student and almost about to graduate from UCSD in June! I love everything to do with working out and being healthy. I prefer to run, swim, surf,and hot yoga (preferablybikram)for … more
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Food, Gourmand, Coffee, Espresso, Latte, Foam, Latte Foam Art, Foam Art, Latte Etching, Latte Art, Barista


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