National Espresso Day and Latte Art

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21 Nov National Espresso Day and Latte Art

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According to the good people at Breville, makers of fine espresso machines and other things kitcheny, today is National Espresso Day. The chocolate swirl lily is my caffeinated tribute.

Now before you ooh and ahh, let me tell you it took eight tries, half a litre of milk and enough chocolate syrup to induce a diabetic coma to produce this. Much as I love my low-tech latte whip, I quickly discovered it just doesn’t produce the quality of foam required to make coffee house art. See all the air in the photo below? Not good.

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This flimsy foam let the chocolate sink to the bottom. Sure the final drink was tasty, but it couldn’t support the design I intended.

So I moved onto “free pour” techniques. Breville produced a number of short instructional videos revealing the secrets of making latte art. I watched as Jessica Kelly, professional barista, poured foam hearts, double ferns (called rosettas for some reason) and a chain of hearts. She made it look easy. I made it look messy. Instead of swirling into the coffee in impressive patterns, my foam slid across the surface of the espresso like a frothy oil slick. There is no photo of my failure but if you imagine a cup-sized bubble bath that’s what I produced. Cup after cup after cup. Clearly you need the power of steam to produce the quality of froth for this kind of art.

While I’d love a professional grade espresso machine, my crowded kitchen is just too small. But now I’m itching to try the free pour techniques I learned. Anyone got an espresso machine? You provide the steam. I’ll bring the beans and milk.

No Comments
  • Andrew
    Posted at 11:20h, 21 November Reply

    This is further evidence of my view that milk ( or cream or, God Help Us “creamer”)has no place in any decent cup of coffee or shot of espresso. Black strong and hot! Leave the art to the craft club!

  • Andrew
    Posted at 11:20h, 21 November Reply

    This is further evidence of my view that milk ( or cream or, God Help Us “creamer”)has no place in any decent cup of coffee or shot of espresso. Black strong and hot! Leave the art to the craft club!

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 11:22h, 21 November Reply

    Remind me why I married you?

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 11:22h, 21 November Reply

    Remind me why I married you?

  • Andrew
    Posted at 11:24h, 21 November Reply

    My boyish charm.

  • Andrew
    Posted at 11:24h, 21 November Reply

    My boyish charm.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 11:33h, 21 November Reply

    Good enough!

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 11:33h, 21 November Reply

    Good enough!

  • cheryl
    Posted at 14:22h, 21 November Reply

    I have so many comments I don’t know where to begin.

    1. Love to see the marriage right there on display. Good stuff.

    2. Performer indeed. You’ve got quite the artistic temperament there, Charmian.

    3. When the remaining magazines lose all their ad pages and you and I are finally, and completely out of work, at least you’ll have your latte art to fall back on. Me? I’ll be reduced to hawking $2.95 note cards on the corner.

  • cheryl
    Posted at 14:22h, 21 November Reply

    I have so many comments I don’t know where to begin.

    1. Love to see the marriage right there on display. Good stuff.

    2. Performer indeed. You’ve got quite the artistic temperament there, Charmian.

    3. When the remaining magazines lose all their ad pages and you and I are finally, and completely out of work, at least you’ll have your latte art to fall back on. Me? I’ll be reduced to hawking $2.95 note cards on the corner.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 14:45h, 21 November Reply

    Cheryl, your photographs are so lovely you’d probably make a killing hawking cards.

    As for my latte art? My one in eight success rate will leave me in the poor house and buzzing like a bee from caffeine overload. After all, I can’t pour good coffee down the drain just because it doesn’t look right. Bzzzzzz.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 14:45h, 21 November Reply

    Cheryl, your photographs are so lovely you’d probably make a killing hawking cards.

    As for my latte art? My one in eight success rate will leave me in the poor house and buzzing like a bee from caffeine overload. After all, I can’t pour good coffee down the drain just because it doesn’t look right. Bzzzzzz.

  • Dana McCauley
    Posted at 14:59h, 21 November Reply

    Ha – when the comments are as good to read as the post, you know you’re doing something right!

    My son went through a latte art phase last spring. For a couple of weeks I was steaming milk and pulling espressos two and three at a time. We had to put a stop to the project when my hubby and I were down to sleeping just a couple of hours a night!

    Oh, btw, Cheryl, I need some notecards. Come to my corner.

  • Dana McCauley
    Posted at 14:59h, 21 November Reply

    Ha – when the comments are as good to read as the post, you know you’re doing something right!

    My son went through a latte art phase last spring. For a couple of weeks I was steaming milk and pulling espressos two and three at a time. We had to put a stop to the project when my hubby and I were down to sleeping just a couple of hours a night!

    Oh, btw, Cheryl, I need some notecards. Come to my corner.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 15:45h, 21 November Reply

    Dear Charmain,
    Even a non-coffee drinker like myself can enjoy this post. I actually feel like I’ve just been to a cyberspace neighbourhood coffee-clatch after reading all the comments. Since I read everyone’s comments everyday I feel like I know the people who follow your blog. You have talented, charming, humourous and culinarillary clever readers.
    Love,
    Robin

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 15:45h, 21 November Reply

    Dear Charmain,
    Even a non-coffee drinker like myself can enjoy this post. I actually feel like I’ve just been to a cyberspace neighbourhood coffee-clatch after reading all the comments. Since I read everyone’s comments everyday I feel like I know the people who follow your blog. You have talented, charming, humourous and culinarillary clever readers.
    Love,
    Robin

  • Roxanne
    Posted at 18:26h, 21 November Reply

    Color me the l-o-s-e-r here. I have a low-tech French press and that’s it, but we only have coffee once a week or less.

    P.S. I’m jealous your sweetie visits and comments on your blog. Other than me saying, “Honey, come look at this,” I don’t think that darling boy I’m married to has ever seen my blog.

  • Roxanne
    Posted at 18:26h, 21 November Reply

    Color me the l-o-s-e-r here. I have a low-tech French press and that’s it, but we only have coffee once a week or less.

    P.S. I’m jealous your sweetie visits and comments on your blog. Other than me saying, “Honey, come look at this,” I don’t think that darling boy I’m married to has ever seen my blog.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 23:34h, 21 November Reply

    Dana, you are the best mom in the entire world.

    Robin, if I had my way, Oxford would add “culinarillary” as a new word. Can’t figure out how to pronounce it, but it sure looks good in print!

    Roxanne, you are far from a loser. French presses make excellent coffee. And my husband rarely comments because neither one of us can resist a good one-liner. You’ve witnessed the results. If he continues to comment we’ll have to rename the blog to “In This Corner…”

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 23:34h, 21 November Reply

    Dana, you are the best mom in the entire world.

    Robin, if I had my way, Oxford would add “culinarillary” as a new word. Can’t figure out how to pronounce it, but it sure looks good in print!

    Roxanne, you are far from a loser. French presses make excellent coffee. And my husband rarely comments because neither one of us can resist a good one-liner. You’ve witnessed the results. If he continues to comment we’ll have to rename the blog to “In This Corner…”

  • debbie
    Posted at 11:19h, 22 November Reply

    Charmian, my husband totally agrees with yours. Coffee is no place for milk or cream, he always says. I don’t drink coffee, but I do love espresso or cap. My husband heats up the 1/2 and 1/2 in the microwave first, then whips it with the little frother thing. Mine gets the cream his is black. No desgin, but the love is overwhelming. It’s so good.

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 11:26h, 22 November Reply

    Debbie, I couldn’t have said it any better. “The love is overwhelming.”

    And in the end, that’s what it’s all about.

  • cheryl
    Posted at 12:33h, 22 November Reply

    I’m still stuck on the “Dana, you’re the best mom in the entire world” comment. Hrumph.

    Dana, seriously? I’ll sell you so many note cards you won’t know what hit you. Charmian, we should peddle our wares door to door. “Coffee? Cards?” The possibilities are endless…

  • ClaireWalter
    Posted at 12:50h, 23 November Reply

    I wonder whether it was only National Espresso Day in Canada — or whether we south-of-the-border types should have been celebrating it too.

  • Carolyn
    Posted at 13:45h, 24 November Reply

    I can’t believe I missed National Espresso Day, even if the nation IS Canada.

    I have a huge, hulking professional espresso machine. You are welcome to come over and remind me why I let it exist on my counter. No need to bring the beans. We have them too.

    When I’ve finished trying to become a novelist, photographer, seamstress and home cook, I might have to try my hand at latte art. :)

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 18:02h, 24 November Reply

    Cheryl, you start pulling espresso shots for your kids and I’ll promote you. The baked apples were wonderful, but just don’t deliver that caffeine kick.

    Claire, I’m not sure what makes a national day official, but any excuse to play with coffee or talk about food is okay by me. Heck, I’ve been known to post about Talk Like a Pirate Day with nothing more than a loose tie in to rum balls.
    http://christie-corner.blogspot.com/2006/09/yo-ho-ho-and-bottle-of-rumballs.html

    Carolyn, I’ll be over soon…

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