Latte Art at Home (the cheat-sheet)

A couple of years ago, Aron got us a Nespresso machine and Aeroccino milk frother for Christmas—the Citiz model. We’ve loved it so much that last year,* I bought him one (the smaller Pixie) for his office, too. It’s just so simple and convenient—and it makes a really consistent cup. Aron often just has an espresso or an Americano, but I tend to prefer lattes or cappuccinos—so the frother is actually one of my favorite parts.

I used to have a machine with a hand-held steamer, but I never used it. Pressing the single button on the Nespresso one works for me.

Still, I’ve always wondered if—had I the skill—the crema on the espresso and the frothed milk made by the Nespresso could be joined to look like those fancy, artful cups the barista pours.

Nespresso asked if I’d like to try their newest machine, the Nespresso Vertuoline (which makes both brewed coffee and espresso with the same button), and since I knew already that I love the product, I thought it would be a fun chance to see if I could have a friend who works at a cafe downtown come and show me how to make a fancy latte when I’m entertaining for the holidays. After all, latte art is said to be a marker of quality—espresso paired with properly textured milk at an appropriate temperature.

Some takeaway notes: If you don’t have an automatic frother, you’ll want to steam your milk to within 140-145 degrees. Agitation is key, but you want micro bubbles in both your espresso crema and your milk to be about the same density, so use the smaller wand on the frother and angle the cup when you pour. And then…

Truth? It takes a lot of practice and true skill even with a machine that makes the right quality ingredients. He showed me a slight cheat.



We found that the Aeroccino frother’s large wand was perfect for a really thick head of foam (like I get at the European pastry shop in town) and its smaller wand was best for this pursuit. Pour in a single spot and then lift up at the end of the pour to create a single streak, just breaking the surface of the espresso crema. He used the fine tip of his thermometer to make fine lines, moving back and forth, before pulling it back through.

Okay. That, I can do.

*We’ve bought our machines at this time of year because they have really good holiday promotions. I think the milk frother makes a great gift.

Thanks to Nespresso USA for sponsoring this post (and my latte art education).

P.S. Delicious, decadent Sticky Buns to eat with your coffee.

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