Espresso brewing cans are especially suitable for layered latte macchiatos that need to be poured carefully. Espresso cups or small glasses are common substitutes among other beverages and must be run, not poured.
How to choose the best latte art pitcher
Any self-respecting barista knows that choosing the right milk jug for latte art can significantly impact. Having the right tools and equipment in your device and equipment library can provide necessary help for your casting accuracy-this will ultimately affect the quality of your latte art.
Unfortunately, there are countless latte art pots and milk froth pots online-finding the proper pot can quickly become an irresistible and confusing task.
When you start to explore your options, you will quickly realize that there are plenty of different designs, sizes, material compositions, and even colors to choose from.
Now, usually-having many choices is not a bad thing anyway.
But when you try to pick one out-it like looking for a needle in a haystack.
That's why we decided to put together a guide for everything you need to know to pick the best latte art pot for yourself.
Let's dive in!
What is a good pitcher?
When we consider the qualities of a "good pitcher,"-most of us immediately consider four main factors. These factors are size, width, material, and nozzle shape. Although they all seem obvious, each of these factors can considerably impact latte art quality.
Let's start with the width.
Why is width important?
Have you heard of micro-foam? Just kidding-of course you have! The micro-foam provides the best texture of the free-pour design, and the milk itself tastes great.
So, what does the microbubble have to do with the width of your pitcher? If the kettle is wide enough, it will create a small whirlpool when you steam the milk. This vortex produces micro-foam by breaking down the bubbles so that the milk is heated evenly and well aerated.
However, if your kettle is not wide enough, you will miss this effect entirely, and your latte will not be so delicious in comparison.
Why is pitcher size important?
When it comes to choosing the right size-the most common choices are 12 ounces or 20 ounces. However, smaller and larger options are generally not "traditional" in themselves.
So what do you need to consider when choosing a size? The first question you should remember comes down to how much milk you plan to use to make the beverage you are making.
If your jug is too full, the milk will overflow when you steam it. On the other hand, it won't inflate well if it's out of space because the steam wand will not be appropriately submerged.
Your goal is to have the milk just below the spout, which is approximately 70% of the depth of the milk carafe.
Does the material of the kettle matter?
This is the subject of a reasonably extensive debate, and it comes down to your personal preferences. However, we strongly recommend choosing a kettle made of stainless steel.
The main reason we recommend is that stainless steel helps to retain heat and keep the temperature consistent. Remember that you want to heat the milk to around 70°C (about 160°F), so you also need something that won't be hot.
Although most of us are used to the temperature of stainless steel kettles, you can always choose to use Teflon-coated kettles if you feel uncomfortable with this heat.
Let's talk about the spout!
Although some of the other factors we have mentioned so far may not be intuitive-every barista knows the spout, regardless of their skill level or how long they have been in the industry.
Although you often hear the saying that "real baristas" can put some of the most worthwhile lattes on Instagram with almost any milk jug they have on, and let's be honest.
Having a suitable spout in your pitcher makes a big difference (it can even help amateur baristas bring fascinating drinks to life).
Most people start with classic nozzles. This is because it can help us pour beautiful, smooth, and consistent micro-foam "spots." However, if you plan to adopt a slightly more complicated design than a heart or tulip, you may want to choose a pitcher with a sharper nozzle.
All the different outlets can help us adjust the level of control, consistency, and shape of the pouring itself.
Therefore, after understanding the four main factors behind choosing the best latte art pot, you might think that you need to start building a complete set of milk cans. Use a milk jug designed almost exclusively for the different creations you plan to make.
You are not far from the truth. For most pitchers, you can find and buy online.
But what if we told you that you only need a pitcher? What if there was a pitcher who could rule all of these and help you create almost any latte art design imaginable?
Best Latte Art Pitcher
There is nothing like sitting down in your favorite coffee shop with soft music in the background and having a cup of latte filled with perfectly designed artwork. But anyone who has tried it will know that those beautiful roses or delicate swans are more challenging to create than they seem.
Suppose you don’t have the right equipment. In this article, we will review the best latte art pitchers so you can pour your way in that perfect cup.
Milk jug buying guide
If you take a quick look, you will find many different milk cans on the market. You can think of various shapes, designs, colors, weights, and styles. So, when you want to buy a latte art milk can, what are the essential things you should look for?
The first thing to consider is what size milk jug you need. As a general rule, you need a pitcher that is approximately 2-3 times the size of the cup you will pour. The two main sizes of milk jugs are 12 ounces and 20 ounces.
When frothing milk, the ideal amount of milk should be about one-third below the bottom of the spout. If you set the kettle too high, the milk will overflow during steaming; if it is too low, the steam wand will not be adequately submerged, so you will not be able to get the microbubbles needed for latte art.
When it comes to milk frothing, you need to create a micro-foam. Microbubbles are milk with a fine texture, used to make latte art; it is as smooth as velvet and looks like shiny wet paint. To create a micro-foam, you need to create a whirlpool while steaming the milk. The vortex helps break down the bubbles in the milk, making it evenly heated and aerated. This is where the width of the latte art milk jug comes into play. You need a milk jug wide enough to form a whirlpool. If the milk jug is too narrow when the steaming stick is added to the mixture, there is not enough room for the milk to move around.
Although an experienced barista can create flawless latte art with any milk jug, if you are just starting, you will find that different spout shapes make it easier or more challenging to create specific designs.
The two main spout shapes are classic, they are shorter and rounder, the spout is more pointed, and the spout is narrower and more pointed:
- The classic spout is suitable for beginners. They help you dump smoothly and consistently. These are suitable for basic designs such as Heart or Slowsetta.
- Sharp outlets are suitable for more complex designs, such as Rosettas or Swans, because they give you more control over detailed designs.
The best material for latte art pots is stainless steel. Stainless steel helps retain heat and is a tough material to withstand high-temperature heating and repeated washing. If you want a milk tank without a handle, you may find that the temperature of the milk tank is too high, so it is best to choose a milk tank with a PTFE coating.
The last thing to consider is the appearance of the milk jug? Will it be a coffee machine that you will be proud to exhibit? Does it feel good to hold while steaming and pouring milk? Do you want a handle, or do you find it easier to pour without a handle? Can this latte art pot provide you with the control and precision you need to pour these exquisite designs?
The correct way to froth and steam milk
Cappuccino and latte are espresso drinks made by mixing espresso with frothed milk and steamed milk. All espresso machines have a steam wand (usually on the side, near the mobile filter) for frothing and steaming milk. For cappuccino, the milk is "micro-foamed for cappuccino," almost twice the original milk volume. For a latte, the milk is "steamed." The result of steaming is only hot milk (a little frothy).
You will need a stainless steel frothing tank to froth the milk. Foaming pitchers come in many sizes; choose the size according to how much milk you want to make. In a coffee shop, you should have pitchers of various sizes so that you can choose a pitcher that suits your job. Although the amount of water in the jug should not exceed 1/3 at the beginning (to double the volume of the foam), the amount of water in the jug should not be much less than this. Otherwise, it will be more difficult for you to get milk frothing.
If you are making a cappuccino microfoam, you should only add 1/3 of the milk to the frothing tank because the volume of milk will double during the frothing process. It’s best to have a quick-reading thermometer with a clip on the side of your bubbling jar. This is because the milk should not be too hot. (If heated above 160 degrees Fahrenheit, the taste of the milk will change.) There are special milk frothing thermometers that can be used for this purpose, but any kitchen "quick read" thermometer can be used.
"Foaming" is the process of creating "microbubbles" in milk. This is done by blowing hot air (or steam) on the milk. Since the surface of the bubbles is a series of tightly bound protein molecules, skimmed milk will produce richer foam than whole milk. It may be difficult to whole foam milk, even though it will have a creamier taste. It is recommended to use partially skimmed milk (2%). It foams easily and has a light taste. Foaming soy milk is the most difficult, although it can be done.
Again, to make the milk foam, put cold milk into the frothing tank no more than 1/3. Ideally, the frothing tank should be at the same temperature as the milk, and both should be as cold as possible. To prepare the espresso machine to froth, first, turn on the steam wand to remove all water condensed in the tip, and then turn it off again. (If your espresso machine does not have a drip tray, put the steam wand in an empty cup.) Then put the tip of the steam wand into the milk so that the information is about ½ inch below the surface of the milk.
Then first, fully open the steam valve and make sure that the tip of the wand stays close to the surface of the milk, as it needs to draw in air from the surface of the milk to create foam. For foaming, you need to experiment, but a good starting point is to keep the tip about ½ inch below the surface of the milk. When steaming, you can completely submerge the tip.
If the tip is too close to the surface of the milk, excessive bubbles will be produced. Remember, we need "microbubbles." On the other hand, if the tip is too far from the surface of the milk, it will not inhale enough air to create foam (this is the steamed milk we want). You must experiment to understand what is appropriate and remember that as the foam rises, the surface of the milk will drop, so you must adjust accordingly during the frothing process.
It is also good to rotate the pitcher clockwise (or counterclockwise in a more natural way) to create a "vortex" movement in the milk. This will make the foam mix evenly throughout the milk, resulting in a uniform texture.
You will learn that you don't need to spin the pitcher if you hold the pitcher correctly. On the contrary, the steam pressure will form a "vortex." To create a natural vortex, keep the pitcher level, but keep the (slightly inclined) steam wand close to the side of the pitcher. Letting the natural vortex form is better than rotating the pitcher manually because you will have better control of the tip depth when you keep the pitcher still.
Continue to foam until the texture best suits your taste. Generally speaking, milk should be beaten to twice its size. Once the milk reaches this point, slowly move the wand's tip down into the milk. This will distribute the foam into the milk and ensure an even temperature. When the thermometer reads just over 150F, turn off the steam tap and remove the tip from the milk.
Since the thermometer takes some time to reach the actual temperature, the temperature of the frothed milk is 158-162F, so the frothing process needs to be stopped when the thermometer reads 150F. The milk frothing thermometer has a colored band near 140-160F. If you use one of these thermometers, stop the foaming process when the temperature enters the ribbon.
If the bubbles on the surface are more significant than you want, you can break them down into smaller bubbles by hitting the frothing tank on the work surface, or by stirring the milk, or gently rotating the milk in the frothing tank. Likewise, we don't want big bubbles. We want "microfoam" with tiny bubbles of uniform size. When the volume of milk has doubled and is in the temperature range of 150-160F, it can be used in a cappuccino.
We don't want the result to be micro-foam for latte coffee. Instead, we want heated milk (between 150-160F) with only a tiny amount of foam. Therefore, when using a steam wand to heat latte milk, the tip should be immersed more profound in the milk to avoid bubbles. When heating a latte, you can first add more milk to the frothing tank (up to 2/3 full) because your volume will not expand too much; you will only get a slight foam "head."
When pouring heated milk into a latte, the milk flows in first (leave most of the frothing head in the frothing tank) because milk is heavier than foam. In traditional latte, coffee, espresso, and milk are poured into a serving cup simultaneously. After pouring espresso and hot milk together, only micro-foaming heads remain in the frothing jar.
To complete the latte, pour the foam into the mixture. Professional baristas move the frothing tank in various ways while running in micro-foam to create beautiful patterns-hearts, flowers, leaves, etc. on the surface of the latte. This is not as difficult as it seems. You can experiment and teach yourself to make some of these patterns.
Tips for professionals-temperature
Temperature is critical at both "ends" of the process. Before the start, the colder the milk and pitcher, the better the result. It is always best to use a bubbling thermometer to eliminate guesswork. The end temperature of the foam will have a significant impact on the flavor of the finished beverage.
If the frothed (or steamed) milk temperature is lower than 150 degrees, it will still maintain a strong "milk" taste, which tends to dominate the beverage's flavor. More than 150 degrees can let the taste of espresso dominate. But if you let the milk temperature exceed 160 degrees, you will lose almost all the milk flavor, and any bitterness in the espresso will dominate the beverage.
Remember, customers who want cappuccino or latte usually don’t want any harsh or bitter taste. This will not be a problem if your espresso is perfect, although you still want some milk flavor as the "background" for the espresso flavor. Above 175 degrees, the milk will burn. Don't use it. The taste will be wrong.
Pro tip-maintain the steam wand
After completing the bubbling process, immediately put the water tank down and spend a few seconds cleaning the steam wand. If you stop foaming in the low-temperature range of 140 degrees, the milk temperature will continue to rise to the ideal range of 150-160 degrees when you clean the wand.
First, briefly open the steam valve to blow out the wand again. Sometimes, some milk will stay in the rod. If it sits there, it will burn. This will affect the flavor of subsequent batches of milk and block the wand and interfere with the foaming process. This effect can be minimized by washing the rod after each use. (This is why we remove the tips and clean them after closing the door every day.)
When the wands are still hot, wipe them with a damp cleaning cloth to prevent the milk film from accumulating. The cleaning cloth you use for this purpose can only be used. We don't want to wipe the dirty counter and use the same material on the steam wand. Anything that will eventually come into contact with a drink (in this case, a steam wand) should have a special cleaning cloth. You may need cleaning cloths of different colors in a store, and make sure your staff knows which color cleaning cloths to use.
Tips for professionals-pour different drinks and use a spatula.
If you want to froth both cappuccino and latte, you can froth at the top of the jar and then heat some milk directly to the bottom of the pot. Pour the top (foam) into the cappuccino first, but do not finish the cappuccino. Then pour the base into the latte using a small spatula to stop the foam still floating in the jug. (A small pastry spatula is perfect for this.)
Back to the cappuccino, use a spatula to push most (not all) of the remaining foam from the can into the cappuccino. This completes your cappuccino (almost). Go back to the latte, take out a sizeable thick foam again with a spatula, and fill up the latte. Try to make it as round as possible and place it in the center of the latte. When it sits for a few seconds, it will spread into a circle.
If you have a pastry template, you can use the template and some cocoa or cinnamon powder and a pastry shaker to decorate your cappuccino. Remember, this is just for presentation. Don't use too much to give the drink a strong cinnamon or chocolate flavor unless the customer knows you want to. The beautiful foam circle in the latte can make latte art.
Tips for professionals-latte art
An essential aspect of any barista competition is the artistic performance of the latte. At this stage, the barista uses the last micro-foam as a starting medium to create their own "iconic pattern" on the surface of the latte. This is done by dragging a sharp tip through the microfoam to redistribute it on the surface. Many baristas use the end of a bubble thermometer as the primary tool for making latte art.
They learn to make symmetrical shapes (such as hearts and stars). Beginners can master this in just a few attempts. It is very worthwhile. It only takes a second or two, will "wow" many of your customers and make you (in their minds) a step ahead of your competitors.
In professional competitions, the design can become very delicate, and syrup can be added to the design to obtain a broader range of colors and shades. Some of these modes may take months to master and a few minutes to execute. You don't need to do this in your coffee shop. However, if you are considering the competition, you should get some books or videos that show examples of different types of patterns and how they are done.