BeanScene Magazine

Cup Coffee’s barista Scott Luengen creates The Heart

From the February 2013 issue.

On the occasion of Valentine’s Day, what better time to go back to basics with the love heart.

This is the first pattern that all new baristas learn how to free pour. Despite being the simplest of all latte art patterns, a well-executed heart can still be stunning. Learning how to do the basic heart is easy; however, perfecting it is certainly not a trivial matter.

The key to a memorable heart is making sure that there is plenty of contrast and great symmetry. It takes a bit of practice, but once you get the right shape, a heart can be pretty impressive.

There are dozens of different variations on the heart, ranging from a simple solid heart to a cup-filling feathered heart, or even chasing hearts. For this issue, I am going to describe how to pour a three-tiered concentric heart; this is the one I will always default to in the café because of its crisp and appealing look.

  • Step 1 Break up the surface of the crema by pouring milk from a height in a circular motion. Don't move the jug too quickly or you will develop a whirlpool in the cup that will distort the pattern.
  • Step 2 This initial preparation makes it easier for the pattern to flow outwards from the tip of the jug later in the pour.
  • Step 3 Make sure that you maintain the colour of the crema; without it, you lose the contrast in the pattern.
  • Step 4 The cup should be tilted at an angle to increase the surface area of the coffee. When the cup is just over two thirds full, bring the tip of the milk jug close to the surface while slowly moving the jug from left to right.
  • Step 5 As the semi-circular base starts to form, position the tip of the jug in the centre of the cup. The first tier is going to be the largest.
  • Step 6 As you pour the subsequent tiers, the base will spread out even more; however, don’t worry if at first it isn’t filling up the whole cup.
  • Step 7 Start the next tier about half a centimetre from the base; this will give the heart a nice crisp line in the centre.
  • Step 8 In order to pour this tier, drop the tip of the jug down to the surface of the milk, while simultaneously moving the jug towards the back of the cup.
  • Step 9 Don’t be afraid to push the second tier right into the centre of the base, as it will move out of the way.
  • Step 10 Repeat step 3, leaving space between the second and third tier. Once you have three tiers, simply pull through the pattern with a thin stream of milk.
  • Step 11 The amount of milk that comes from the spout during the pull through affects the shape of the resulting heart.
  • Step 12 A heavy pull through, closer to the surface, will drag the pattern with it more than a finer one from a height.
  • Step 13 Experiment to see what gets you the best shape. Once you get the hang of this type of pour, you can easily add more tiers to the heart.

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