Milk Science and Latte Art

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MSLA Prologue

MSLA 0.01 – What is the Course Structure?

What is the Course Structure?

This course has five broad modes for you to navigate through. First, we take milk back to its origin, the farm, where we look at the diets of dairy cows. How is milk processed, and what farm-based issues affect the stability of milk products? In the second mode, we introduce the chemistry of milk. What are its chemical properties and how does this affect foam production? Third, we take you into the cafe environment and the espresso machine. How does the machine work, and how must it be maintained? In the fourth mode of the course we explore practical latte art, from the rudiments up to the most advanced forms. We deconstruct the known milk jug manoeuvres and then work through latte art patterns with you, steadily approaching more-complex patterns featuring an increasing number of elements. In the fifth mode, we present our Latte Art Lexicon.

Whilst this course celebrates the rise of latte art, it is also aimed at raising an awareness of the whole chain of production from farm to cup. Coffee consumers have become more aware of coffee-farming practices, but milk production has remained, for many of us, a subject about which we know little. The popularity of latte art and the widespread love of milk-based coffee tells us at Barista Hustle — and as an industry — that we need to develop a respectful understanding of milk production.

Chapter 1 lays the framework for an holistic understanding of all the ingredients a barista works with. We explore the practice of dairy farming and dairy processing. We interview a dairy farmer to get an insider’s view of cows’ diets and a better understanding of what improves cows’ nutrition. We learn what it takes to produce milk that has the desired qualities of texture and flavour.

In Chapter 2 we go deep into the chemistry of milk and milk foam, with assistance from Steven Abbott, a professor of surfactant science. In particular, we examine what holds bubbles together and what can make them deteriorate.