The First Half
Pouring from a Height – The Pin-Drop Technique
The best presentation for milk drinks relies on creating a sharp contrast between the dark espresso crema and the white milk. It is possible to preserve the dark colour of the espresso crema all the way up to the top of the cup. The technique needed to do this is the pin-drop. Here is an example:
To apply the pin-drop technique, begin pouring from 10 cm above the surface of the liquid in the cup. That distance is measured between the surface of the liquid and the spout of the milk pitcher. If the spout is more than 15 cm above the surface you increase the likelihood that your stream of milk will become interrupted, running the risk of creating splashes and larger bubbles on the surface.
Filling Flow Rate
You must pour fast enough to keep the liquid in a single, unbroken stream. If you pour too slowly, the stream of milk will break and dribble, resulting in more splashes and blemishes or large bubbles on the surface of the drink. Pour too quickly, the surface will discolour because of an unduly wide and turbulent flow.
Snail Trails – Too Fast, Too Close, Too Random
We want to avoid leaving any marks on the canvas of the drink during the first half of the pour. We call these marks snail trails. They happen when you pour too quickly, too close to the surface, or too randomly (i.e., in an arbitrary way).
Too quickly: A wide flow leaves a stripy white residue in its wake — hence, we give the name ‘snail trails’ to this latte art fault.
Too close: Getting too close to the surface during filling will stop the pin-drop technique from working.