Think you’ve got what it takes to be a top-class barista? Check out our guide to latte art.

Only the most cantankerous of misery guts could look upon latte art as foamy futility in a cup. The designs are visual delights -- what could be better on a cold, Dublin day, with deadlines looming and bills to pay, than a bunny, rose or love heart on your prescribed shot of caffeine?

While über-creative types will be drawn immediately to the challenge of mastering latte art, the wealth of online videos and step-by-step guides means that it’s a skill within anyone's reach.

With coffee shop jobs consistently popular with students, you'll impress employers and customers alike with a little practice and the necessary equipment.

Just like the key Happy Gilmore's success was “all in the hips”, your mantra will be “with a flick of the wrist”. You'll need to work quickly, adding the milk as soon as the espresso is done.

What you’ll need

A seriously good shot of espresso

We're talking one with thick brown crema on top – that's the foam that marks a well-brewed espresso.

If you work at a coffeehouse or restaurant, or have a quality coffee machine at home, this first step is as good as completed. Or we're going to assume it is, as this is a How To Make Latte Art piece and not a how-to on steaming milk to the right temperature (between 65 and 60 degrees Celsius) or pulling the perfect espresso – these are whole other articles. Google searching will verify this.

At least 2 per cent steamed milk

..and it has to be refrigerated to close-to-freezing point and steamed correctly.

A pitcher

Your steam pitcher should also be kept in the fridge and taken out just before use.

Be careful that the milk is steamed and not scalded – you might have to stop the steamer a few degrees earlier on your second try if this happens. Milk continues to heat up after it’s removed. You want to achieve dinky light air bubbles – this is called microfoam.


10-20 seconds before the espresso has finished brewing, quickly swirl (and with coffee addict's enthusiasm!) the just-steamed milk to remove any lumps or larger pockets of air.

Now, to make a love heart...

Sink it! That is create a kind of milky foundation for the art by raising the pitcher about 2-3inches above the mug, and pouring in the milk in a pencil-thick stream. Fill the cup until a third full. By the way, you shouldn't expect to see white appear on top at this initial stage.

Now lower your pitcher until it touches the edge of the mug, and rock the jug side to side using flicking wrist motions. Simultaneously, increase the volume, and thus stream size, of the milk going in. A cream-coloured circle should imminently appear in the centre. Keep pouring until the circle becomes the desired size of your heart design. Very slightly tilt the jug forward.

Reduce the volume of milk pouring in, and move the pitcher up and across the diameter of the circle toward the edge of the cup. Et voila - isn't it lovely?

Latte art combines consistency and multi-tasking; it is indubitably a skill and it takes plenty of practice to make perfect. Don't expect to get the hang of it the first few times.

Have fun with it, for once you have mastered the charming heart you can progress onwards and upwards until you're the new Mark Breach or Kazuki Yamamoto!