The art of milk

Behind the beauty of an ornate cappuccino hide expert techniques ranging from the preparation of the perfect espresso to the delicate design in frothed milk

The art of cappuccino

Lean, pour, zig-zag, draw, push, cut. All with milk on coffee.

Latte Art is now as world famous as haute cuisine, despite the fact that it is limited to just two base ingredients: a good cup of espresso and some frothed milk. Depending on the preparation method chosen, the milk can be used to create designs and shapes that might be white (from the milk) or coloured (with food colouring or toppings).

Cappuccino decoration techniques

According to the professionals of MUMAC Academy: “Nowadays, Latte Art is a very sought-after technique for professionals in the café sector. As well as adding excitement and a sense of care and attention, the decoration on top of the coffee creates a predisposition for tasting and that can make all the difference.” While you undoubtedly need a good eye for it, results are ensured by good technique accompanied by passion, patience and a steady hand. All of this is touched on in the many courses the Academy organises on the subject, taking in new trends in Latte Art such as: Free pouring, Etching, which is the creation of shapes on the surface of the cappuccino using special pens or toothpicks, Painting, using brushes and food colouring, and Topping, which is when food colouring or chocolate is poured onto the surface of the crema. Meanwhile, Freestyling includes the use of the aforementioned techniques in any receptacle other than a coffee cup, with teas and coloured drinks also used, while Stencilling uses special stencils and cocoa power to create designs on the milk.

Espresso and frothed milk, a work of art

It’s not all about technique and a steady hand. You also need the right equipment, such as a jug with the right shape to froth the milk in, special pens and toothpicks, a cocoa shaker, toppings, food colourings, fine paintbrushes for food use and perhaps even some stencils. These come in hundreds of designs, ranging from the Yin-Yang symbol to “Marry me?”.

But before you get bogged down with fancy creations, you need to build up a solid base. That means having an excellent espresso upon which to pour the froth. Just as crucial is the proper frothing of the milk, the bubbles of which must be very fine. The milk must be malleable and have the consistency of a homogeneous cream, so that the froth and liquid do not separate when poured.

The hand is important, of course, because it is the act of pouring that dictates how the froth spreads out and defines the white shapes that form on the coffee.

It really is an art which can only be learned by attending special courses. It takes a whole lot of experimentation and patience, because it can take up to a few minutes to decorate a cappuccino.

Fancy giving a simple heart a go? Once you’ve prepared a good coffee, start to pour from a height to increase the level of the espresso to around halfway up the cup. Then move into the centre and pour the frothed milk, finishing off by lifting the jug and cutting off the shape in the middle. Not as easy as it sounds, right? Well that’s exactly why there are special training courses and videos (link ad articolo su Latte Art Mania) that are watched by millions of people around the world.