Competitive Foam Art - How Did That Happen?

So what exactly is foam art? Basically, foam latte art is a method making coffee through pouring steamed milk into a shot of espresso, then creating a pattern or design on the surface of the froth. This froth can even be embellished by "drawing" on the top layer of the foam with a frothing wand.

It’s a touch that has grown in popularity and there are now friendly competitions among local coffee shop baristas. You can have a go, yourself. If you want to impress your family or co-workers, you can create your own foam art. Here's how:

  • Pour cold milk into a steam pitcher
  • Once the milk reaches 80 degrees, spin the pitcher counterclockwise until it heats to 150 degrees.
  • Shut off the steam, let the milk settle for a couple seconds for texture, and then swirl the milk vigorously for 20-30 seconds.
  • Pour the milk into the center of the espresso until the cup is 3/4 full, then bring the milk pitcher closer to the cup while continuing to pour and gentling shaking it back and forth, focusing on making a ringed circle. Continue pouring until the foam reaches the top of the cup then sweep the remaining milk up the center of your newly created heart pattern. 
  • Get that frothing wand for those extra feathery touches and designs.

And if you really are going to try that, you are an espresso junkie. Join the club. And consider getting your own machine – if you haven’t already. But if you’re a real junkie you’ll get some for your friends, too, so you’ll know they’ll be a fresh brew waiting when you visit.

As homeowners and workplaces strive to feed their need for caffeine, espresso machines are growing increasingly popular. In order to get the most out of your investment, however, you need to know how to find the best machines to fit your particular needs. To help you get started on your journey to enjoying a delicious cup of Joe and creating your own foam latte masterpieces, here are a few tips for selecting the best espresso machines.

Sheer Simplicity
If you're not one of those people who likes to break out the instruction manual and figure out how all the pulls and levers work, you should focus on finding an espresso maker with push button simplicity. These are usually the best espresso makers for office environments, because it allows employees to get their choice of coffee, espresso, lattes, etc. without having to do much thinking – or breaking.

Unfortunately, the simplest machines are generally pricier - especially in the commercial sector. If money is not an object, however, a great option is the Rancilio Egro 5511 SuperAutomatic which will grind coffee to order and make a wide range of drinks at the touch of a button. Smaller offices with a lower budget would benefit from a simplistic machine like the Gaggia Swing Up, while homeowners will prefer the low-cost, smaller-serving options of machines like the Saeco Odea Giro ReDesign espresso maker.

Have It All
If you want options, the best espresso machines to look at are those which offer the whole hot-beverage spectrum (coffee, espresso, late, cappuccino, tea). The WMF Bistro-1 UltraAutomatic espresso maker, for example, is ideal for large business enterprises who want to provide their employees with the full range of beverage options. Smaller companies and homes do not need such a high-volume output espresso machine and would benefit from models like the Saeco Vienna Plus SuperAutomatic.

Back to the Foam Art
Do you want to get creative with foam art? Generally, SuperAutomatic espresso makers will allow you to froth your milk with an external frothing wand, whereas UltraAutomatic makers will do the frothing for you. Because of this, SuperAutomatics are the best espresso machines for getting fancy. Happy espresso making!