maikelv Senior Member Joined: 13 Feb 2011 Posts: 1 Location: hoeselt Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Sun Feb 13, 2011, 11:34am Subject: Latte Art...without a steamer?
I was wondering if it's at all possible to get a semblance of latte art, when working with a stovetop coffee maker and a press thingymajig (check the picture, I dont know what the correct term for it is :P). If so, how? If not, can I still improve the quality of my coffees and milk by minding some things?
Right now: I microwave my milk until its about 55degrees celcius, and froth it until its nice and silky/creamy.
Links to pictures of my milk frothing tool and the result of my frothing and pour. The bubbles in the foam are obviously too thick to make latte art, but I was just wondering if it can be done or if I really need a steamer.
rfgon Senior Member Joined: 8 Mar 2011 Posts: 1 Location: Cambridge, MA Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Tue Mar 8, 2011, 1:35pm Subject: Re: Latte Art...without a steamer?
I'd also like to know if it's possible to play with latte art without committing to a prosumer espresso machine (I'm a drip-drinking amateur.) Currently, I just microwave and froth with an electric wand, which tastes fine but is too thick to pour cleanly. Are there any cheap setups that can produce proper microfoam with enough practice? I've heard of buying a cheap espresso machine for its steam wand, but that seems like a waste.
samuellaw178 Senior Member Joined: 22 Jan 2011 Posts: 382 Location: KL,Malaysia Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Arrarex Caravel Grinder: Rosco Mini Drip: French Press, Aeropress,... Roaster: DIY Copper drum roaster
Posted Wed Mar 9, 2011, 10:44am Subject: Re: Latte Art...without a steamer?
Maikelv: With the photo that you've posted, I would say it's definitely too thick to make anything resembles latte art (not even close). I have no idea how that frother works but you could try frothing for shorter time to get less foam. If it's within your reach, try posting a another photo of milk with shorter frothing time in a clear glass and I will help giving opinion if it's at all possible for latte art. My guess is probably not though. =(
If you just want something that looks like so-so latte art with yucky coffee with the cheapest possible budget, you could try getting a used steam-driven machine or something. It will be around $20 (more or less) for one. They won't taste good but it will resemble a little bit of latte art if that's what you're looking for. But I would highly recommend considering getting something better than just milked-coffee that resembles latte art but taste bad.
rfgon: it's totally possible to play with latte art with just consumer espresso machine. The budget would be around $200 for half decent espresso setup(grinder+machine+accessories) in my opinion. Grinder is the most important factor here. Without a proper burr grinder, you won't get a nice tasting espresso base for your latte. (keep in mind that fake burr grinders in Target or Walmart won't really cut it though). Another most important prerequisite would be fresh source of roasted coffee (consumed within 15 days of roasting). With those at hands, you are totally eligible to make latte art that tastes decent, at least to a newbie (like me). =)
You can usually find a cheap Gaggias (All Gaggias have about the similiar internals) at about or below $100 on ebay, the key is just be patient. The same goes to the grinder. It's better to take about1 month to do a thorough research before jumping on anything. At the same time, you can watch out for some good deals. Oh ya, Craigslist is another possible source for cheap used equipments depending on your area.
Below is a "long" video of me using a cheap setup to make latte art. No retry and just 1 week+- after getting my first ever proper espresso machine. =) And the best of all, they are just under the $200 mark. I would highly recommend to get a better grinder though if you can afford it.
My first attempt for latte art was microwaved milk+manual frother+instant coffee. That never worked out. Then I borrowed a steam-driven machine from friend and worked with Starbucks preground coffee. Got something that resembles latte art. And now Carezza with Capresso Infinity+freshly roasted coffee. =) Prior to each upgrade, I always thought that my cofee(latte) was decent enough. But now, after having tasted what's real coffee, I've made a latte with the instant coffee and silky microfoamed milk from Carezza. Guess what?They look not bad, but taste wise...YUCKS! I am so never gonna go back to instant coffee, even if I have to do without coffee, ever.
Be warned though, espresso is an expensive hobby and if you're not strong-hearted enough, you will always be tempted to upgrade to the next better equipment. If that's the case and you can afford it, why not just spend one large sum to get the best equipments and never look back again. =)
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