Milk Science and Latte Art

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An Even Background

MSLA 4.07 – Recap & Glossary


  • Just as a painter primes a canvas before painting on it, a latte artist needs to prepare an even and highly contrasting background. The blending ratio of espresso and milk determines the level of contrast achievable in the final design. The higher the contrast, the better.

  • It is necessary to pour from a 10cm height to achieve the pin-drop effect, wherein the milk colour penetrates the surface and doesn’t leave splotches or reduce contrast.

  • At a halfway point in the filling process, it can be helpful to pause to reangle the cup into a position that is conducive to leaving a white design on the surface. This requires tilting the cup towards the spout of the milk pitcher.

  • You can easily track the flow rate of your milk if you practice, using a calibrated container. An awareness and control of the flow rate from your milk pitcher will help to create advanced designs introduced in later chapters. While filling the cup, the flow rate is at the lowest level of the entire flow profile. After reaching the halfway point, the flow rate at least doubles.

  • Eight advanced brush strokes combine to perform all the known designs in the Latte Art Lexicon.

  • Motor memory, aka muscle memory, is a form of encoding that allows you to perform complex motor tasks without activating your brain’s powers of alertness and attention.

  • Repetitious practise encodes the memory of a motor task and the neural process of memory consolidation; it ‘locks away’ the memory. It is important to get the encoding right, from the start. This is aided by slowly building up speed in your movements in the manner of a musician who practices fundamentals.


Consolidation  The process whereby short-term memories become long-term memories, often through repetitive practice

Cutting  A milk pitcher manoeuvre, usually practiced at the end of a design, to make a centre cut or etch through part of a design — e.g.,