The first time I encountered latte art on my coffee, I was mesmerized. Do I snap a photo, savour it slowly, or just admire it without a sip? Ultimately, I indulged, watching the artful design blend into my drink.

Recently, when my usual barista, who had just begun her latte art journey, presented me with a beautiful heart-shaped latte-art cup, I was excited. The perfect art was a testament to her progress and sparked my curiosity about the art of latte art.

In this post, I’ll share insights from my research on latte art creation. Expect an overview of latte art as we look into two popular techniques: free pour and etching. I will end the post by reviewing two standard latte art patterns.

What is Latte Art?

It is the process of pouring steamed milk into espresso to create designs or patterns on the surface of the coffee. In order words, it is the drawings on the top of your coffee. 

Basics of Latte Art

Latte Art requires some essential tools and basic techniques. 

Espresso Machine: Used to extract rich and flavourful espresso, which serves as the canvas for your art.

Espresso Coffee: Choose high-quality beans to ensure a robust and aromatic base for your latte art.

Foamed Milk: The secret to beautiful latte art is well-textured milk. Aim for foamed milk with minimal foam and a silky, smooth consistency. This allows for better integration with the espresso and a smoother pour.

Milk Pitcher: A milk pitcher with a pointed spout is crucial for precise pouring and creating intricate designs.

Art Spoon or Pick: Used for etching – a technique that allows you to add fine details to your latte art.

Types of Latte Artistry: Free Pour and Etching

The world of latte art is diverse, offering various techniques to create stunning visuals in your coffee cup. Two popular methods are free pour and etching, each with its approach and results.

Free Pour

Latte art
Heart-shaped Latte Art

The free pour technique is all about fluid motion and control. It involves pouring steamed milk directly from the pitcher into the espresso, using gravity and the movement of the pitcher to form patterns. This method is ideal for creating standard latte art designs such as:

Hearts: Start by pouring milk into the center of the cup, then gently shake the pitcher back and forth as you move it towards you, creating a round shape. Finally, lift the pitcher slightly and make a quick strike through the center to form a heart.

Rosettas: Begin with a similar approach to the heart, but instead of making a strike through the center, wiggle the pitcher from side to side as you move it towards the rim of the cup, creating a series of interconnected leaves or petals.

Tulips: Pour a small blob of milk in the center, then pause briefly before pouring additional blobs on top, each time moving the pitcher slightly back. Finish with a strike through the center to create the layered tulip effect.

See this video for some visual inspiration.


Etching takes latte artistry to another level, allowing for intricate designs and even portraits. In this technique, you first create a base with the free pour method, then use tools like a toothpick, or special latte art pen to draw on the surface of the milk foam. Examples of etching designs include:

Animals: From simple cat faces to detailed lions, etching allows for a wide range of animal designs. Start with a basic shape using free pour, then add details like eyes, ears, and whiskers with your tool.

Floral Patterns: Create intricate flowers by etching petals, stems, and leaves onto a simple free-pour base. You can even add colour by using syrups or food colouring.

Custom Messages: Personalize your coffee by etching names, initials, or short messages. This is a great way to add a special touch to a coffee for a friend or loved one.

Standard Latte Patterns

Heart Pattern

The heart is a beginner-friendly design. Pour steamed milk into the espresso, and when a white circle forms, cut through the center with the pitcher’s tip to create a heart shape. The key is to mix the coffee and milk before bringing the pitcher closer.

Leaf Pattern

Once you’ve mastered the heart, try the leaf pattern. Pour milk, bring the pitcher close, and shake the tip side to side to create layers. Cut through the center to form a leaf. The closer you get, the smaller the leaves should be.


Latte arts are a captivating form of coffee artistry that combines the rich flavours of espresso with the creamy texture of steamed milk, resulting in visually stunning designs that enhance the overall coffee experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced barista, the journey of mastering latte art is both rewarding and enjoyable.

In conclusion, latte arts are a delightful way to add a personal touch to your coffee creations. It’s a skill that can be developed over time, with each cup offering a new opportunity to express your creativity. Whether you’re a beginner or looking to refine your skills, remember to have fun and enjoy the process of bringing your coffee to life with beautiful, artistic designs.

If you are in Abuja and wondering where to get an espresso machine, check out our Flair Espresso.