These latte art tips almost guaranteed to make you better at it

My latte art is sporadically impressive and depends largely on how good the milk I’m using is (and how well I’ve textured it – but if that’s wrong it’s just easier to blame the milk).

This slideshow from Serious Eats, perhaps more than anything else, made me more consistent because now I think I know what I’m trying to do.

“To begin, we have to lay a foundation of liquid milk underneath the crema. Start by pouring a thin stream of milk from about three inches above the top rim of your mug. The thin, liquidy milk will sink below the foamy coffee and create a supporting base for it in the bowl of the mug.
Think of the milk at this stage as being like an Olympic diver, making her body as thin as possible to pierce the surface of the pool water without creating ripples.”

Then, skipping a few steps to you have to click the link…

“When you bring the pitcher down low and increase your flow, you should see a dot, or halo, of white foam collect on the top of the coffee. This is your artistic belly-flop, and is also the genesis of the rosetta.
To begin forming what will become your leaves, you should start moving the pitcher from side to side at this point. Be sure to do this by using your hand only, not your whole arm: You’re not simply “painting” on top of the latte. Instead, imagine yourself riding a bicycle with hand-brakes, and “pump” the handle of the pitcher with your fist as though you were trying to slow your bike down on a hill.”

There’s also a guide to tulips

“When a white circle or ring appears on the coffee, lift the pitcher up again and stop pouring milk. Practice will help you get this first white blob looking neat and symmetrical.
The cup should be about a third of the way full at this point.”

“Repeat the bring-it-down-low step one more time to create the smallest top part of the flower, and then “pierce” the design to bring it together by slowly lifting the spout of the pitcher while pouring the last bit of milk in a thin stream through the middle of the circular blobs you’ve placed on the coffee.”

Handy stuff.

Science says: Don’t freeze your coffee

Serious Eats is your favourite food blog. You just may not know it yet. They conducted a blind taste test (with the help of my food hero J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.

20101014-coffeetastetest.jpg

The table was littered with tiny paper cups numbered one through eight, each representing a different method for storing coffee beans:

  • 1. Whole beans stored at room temperature in a Ziploc bag (Ziploc bags are not hermetically sealed—air can still escape and enter the bag)
  • 2. Whole beans stored at room temperature in a one-way valve bag (from which CO2 can escape but stale-making air can’t get in)
  • 3 and 4. The same beans stored in the freezer
  • 4, 5, 6, and 7. Ground coffee stored in the same 4 manners

The grinds and whole beans all came from the same batch. The coffee was stored for two weeks before we cracked it out, to get the full effect.

The taste test followed an earlier, less scientific, test, which came up with the following conclusion (which I agree entirely with)…

“Looking at the results with an open and caffeinated mind, my recommendation is to treat fresh-roasted coffee just as you would fresh-baked bread: Better to buy a little bit, use it up while it’s fresh, and buy more when needed. And, just as with fresh-baked bread, the second-best—though by a mile—option is to prepare it into individual servings and store them air-tight in the freezer (in the case of bread, that means slices; for coffee, that means premeasured doses you’d use to make a certain size batch of joe at a time), using only what you need at any time and never letting them thaw and refreeze.”

When beans thaw they sweat and their chemical make-up changes. It’s bad. Mmmkay.

Creative design from the South

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