World and national Latte Art Champions share their secret to success

Latte Art Champions explain why milk cleaner is essential for delicious coffee and proper machine functionality.

Former Australian and World Latte Art Champion Caleb Cha knows a thing or two about milk. For a solid year, Caleb would use hundreds of litres in preparation for the national and world championship competition. When he practiced his routine, he’d wipe down the milk residue from the steam wand in one effortless motion before a steady rotating hand created mesmerising latte art patterns from butterflies to tigers. 

At the end of every session, Caleb would religiously clean his coffee machine with Cafetto Milk Frother Cleaner (MFC), another step embedded in his training regime. 

“It was never a question of whether I would do it, it was always a must. Cleaning your coffee machine of residual coffee oils is one thing but working with milk adds a heightened level of care for health and machine functionality. In fact, I would use dairy milk of different fat content and play around with skim and soy and other plant-based varieties to test my ability to handle different milk textures, but no matter the product, cleaning was always enforced,” Caleb says. 

Use the graph to help you decide the most suitable milk cleaner for your machine. *Note: When using acidic cleaners, the milk liners must be flushed and purged of milk prior to the cleaning process.

“I was fortunate to have the support of Cafetto leading into my World Championship performance. Through working with Managing Director Christopher Short and the team, I’m grateful to know the value of coffee machine cleanliness. It’s knowledge I have retained and enforced throughout my career. I even have Cafetto’s Home Barista Pack to ensure I’m keeping the same cleaning standards on my home machine.”

For any barista or home coffee user, it’s important to clean all parts of the coffee machine that come into contact with milk. Residual milk components may lead to sour milk, milk stone, scale, dried milk deposits, odour or bacteria, such as listeria, salmonella or E.coli. 

Cafetto offers a range of milk cleaners to suit the requirements of most machines. These can be in a liquid, tablet, or powder form, including the Cafetto MFC range and Inverso to clean milk jugs and crockery. These products can be simply put into a machine’s milk holding chamber, or mixed into a container, to allow the machine to perform its cleaning cycle and break down build-up from milk-based products. This involves the cleaning solution being sucked through the milk line to all areas of the machine that come into contact with milk products, including the milk line and milk frother. 

The end result is a milk line free from milk stone deposits, a greatly reduced risk of harmful bacteria growth, fresh tasting milk-based beverages, less hard water scale, hygienic equipment, and a high standard of health and safety.

Another barista that knows the importance of coffee machine cleanliness is Fiefy Anuwatanaphorn from Fiefy’s Specialty Café in Adelaide. Fiefy won the 2009 and 2010 Australian Specialty Coffee Association South Australian Barista Championship, and 2011 SA Latte Art Championship, in addition to representing her native Thailand in the 2009 and 2010 World Latte Art Championship (WLAC).

“Back then when I was competing, it wasn’t easy to find financial support. I was working at a small café and was determined to get to the 2009 World Championship, so I called some of the industry brands I knew of, including Christopher Short from Cafetto. I told him my name, not expecting him to know who I was, and he replied: ‘Oh yes, the Adelaide girl.’ He knew. I asked if he would consider sponsoring me and to my surprise, he said ‘yes’. I look back now and think how gutsy and young I was, but you’d do anything to get to the worlds. I had nothing to lose,” Fiefy says.

Fiefy Anuwatanaphorn from Fiefy’s Specialty Café says cleaning coffee equipment should be a routine procedure.

Cafetto sponsored Fiefy for her back-to-back WLAC appearances, placing a high of fifth in 2010. Now, 15 years later, back in Adelaide, Fiefy has partnered with Cafetto again to launch a new range of Nespresso-compatible capsules. These include a retail box of nine coffee capsules and one Cafetto cleaning capsule in the packaging to encourage users to clean their machine every nine to 10 coffees. This is said to be the first retail packaging of its kind.

“You can’t be a good barista or home coffee maker without taking your cleaning seriously. It’s so important for machine health and coffee taste, and I’m so happy I could collaborate with Cafetto on this initiative,” Fiefy says. 

“Generally, customers don’t think about the importance of cleaning their machines when they walk into the Nespresso shop or walk down the coffee aisle of the supermarket, but they should. In the last year we’ve seen a huge increase in the sale of retail coffee for home use, and when I talk to customers about it and how regularly they clean their machine, their first reaction is, ‘what, Nespresso machines need cleaning?’ That’s why we’ve decided to pair our specialty coffee with a specialty cleaning product. 

It’s hoped Fiefy’s new partnership with Cafetto will be the first step in educating a new wave of users on the importance of cleaning, which Fiefy is the perfect advocate for. She uses Cafetto Grinder Clean, MFC, and Cafetto EVO for her café’s espresso machine setup. She’s even stocked up with Cafetto products at home for her three-group La Marzocco machine sitting in the garage, and the machine in her travelling coffee van. 

“Coffee cleaning is part of my regular routine, and because of that, I haven’t drunk a dirty coffee in a long time. We clean at the café twice a day, once during the midday-rush and at the end of the day. We use Cafetto MFC every second day which is so important given the volume of dairy and dairy alternatives we go through,” Fiefy says. 

“Frothing milk is like cooking. We heat the produce at a certain temperature, so naturally we need to clean associated appliances to be hygienic. It’s the same when you cook in the kitchen. You use a chopping board and knife, but you’d never use the same appliances from breakfast to dinner. That’s why machine cleanliness is so important.” 

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This article appears in the April 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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