Posted on 18 April 2011 by Nate
While I may never be invited to give the keynote address at the commencement ceremonies of Latte Art University, I have been practicing what vaguely resembles latte art with my Rancilio Silvia for several years now. As you know, the Rancilio Silvia is an outstanding machine for producing steamed milk and with several other key variables lined up just so, it can churn out very fine and consistent microfoam, which is required for etching your latte art creations.
For those who aren’t aware of just what we mean by “latte art”, we use this term to refer to the process of pouring steamed milk into brewed espresso for a latte beverage, while simultaneously pouring from the frothing pitcher with a technique that leaves an intricately laced design in contrasting brown and white tones atop the cup. Achieving latte art with your Rancilio Silvia is completely within reach, but it takes loads of practice. When I first began, every latte turned out with a unique result and I never lost the opportunity to exclaim to my wife that the blob sitting atop her latte cup was a “cloud” or an “apple that had fallen from the tree onto a concrete sidewalk, thus flattening one side”. One tool that can help with latte art is a properly shaped frothing pitcher. I am currently using the Rattleware 12 ounce latte art pitcher. I have found it to be a very manageable size and it’s relatively inexpensive at around $17 new.
Let’s take a look at the technique involved so that you can start producing your own beautiful sidewalk apples.
To pour latte art, its necessary two begin with two key ingredients: proper espresso and milk which has been consistently steamed to a silky microfoam texture. We’re assuming here that you’ve had plenty of practice with these two ingredients. Generally, it’s best to have pulled your espresso shot into a wide-mouth cup, preferably 6 to 12 ounces. This is of personal preference, but as you practice, you’ll undoubtedly gravitate toward the size which you find the best to work with. A nice wide mouth will give you room to pour while also watching your technique as it unfolds.
1.Beginning with your espresso and cup in your non-dominant hand, tilt the cup slightly up in the back so that the front of the cup is lowered and nearest you (about 30 degrees).
2.Grasp the frothing pitcher in your pouring hand and slightly lift from the elbow to begin pouring into the center of the cup. It may be helpful to begin with the frothing pitcher resting on the rim of the cup.
3. As the cup reaches one-half to three-quarters full, you need to begin to swing the pitcher slightly back and forth from side to side, rotating from the wrist. As you pour and swing at the same time, keep the pour relatively close to the center of the cup, allowing the “leaves” of the milk to float outward away from your pour.
4. As you come toward the end of the pour, begin to tighten your swing to allow less side to side movement and gradually draw the mouth of the pitcher back toward you and to the side of the cup.
5. At this point, you want to raise the pitcher slightly and take it straight across the cup (away from you) to the opposite edge of the cup. This draws the final “stem” through the leaves which have formed from your side to side swing of the pitcher.
6. Drink up.
You may find it helpful to begin this process by practicing with water so that you don’t waste gallon upon gallon of milk. However, with practice and a steady hand, you’ll be producing fine latte art from your Rancilio Silvia in no time.