Latte art is something we’ve all come to expect from our favorite coffee shops.
For customers, it’s become part of the specialty coffee experience. For shop owners, it’s a way to get customers to post about their coffee on social media wielding their milk frothing skills and showcasing their espresso.
There’s something about latte art that’s difficult to explain with words. You can describe it all you want, but I think you need to see it to appreciate its artistry.
Maybe that’s why it’s so Instagram-able. Even the most straightforward designs, when executed well, can impress anyone — especially people who know a thing or two about latte art.
Before we dive in, if you’re in a rush check out our top pick below:
Alternatives At A Glance
What is Latte Art?
If all that already sounds a bit too complicated, then latte art might not be for you.
Latte art is the creation of a design by free-pouring microfoam into a cup with an espresso shot. Microfoam is the finely textured milk that results from steaming it. It has a silky, paint-like texture.
The most common designs are the heart and rosetta, while the swan and tulip are more advanced variations of the two. You can also make other designs by way of etching.
Making latte art for coffee is like writing an essay with beautiful handwriting. People who look at it will love you for it, but it’s by no means necessary. If I’m honest, your life will probably be simpler without it, because having nice handwriting can’t fix a lousy essay.
Remember, terrible coffee with latte art is still terrible coffee, so always pay attention to your espresso shot!
But I can’t stop anyone from wanting to have beautiful handwriting. Just like I can’t stop you from wanting to make nice latte art, regardless of how “good” your coffee is!
So if you’ve reached this point and still want to make latte art, then let’s go and get you equipped for the job. The first thing you’ll need is the right coffee cup to go with your milk and espresso. Oh, and let’s not forget a decent latte art pitcher too!
The 6 Best Cups for Latte Art 2021
I love using latte or cappuccino cups for making latte art because of their wide tops and narrow or rounded bottoms.
A wide rim gives me a big canvas to work with and allows me to keep the coffee close to the pitcher when I’m doing my pour.
Here are some of my favorite cappuccino cups to make coffee art:
The reason I like Bodum’s double-walled glass cups for making latte art specifically is that they’re clear. So they can give me feedback on If I’m steaming my milk correctly, and the fact they give you visibility of the color blend with the espresso underneath.
I also mentioned earlier that how long you steam milk determines whether you’re making a flat white, latte, or cappuccino.
Cappuccinos are steamed the longest and have the most foam. Flat whites are steamed the shortest and are supposed to have the least foam. The latte is in between, with less foam than a cappuccino.
Because these coffee cups are clear, you can see the bubbles in your milk and tell whether there’s too much foam or not enough.
As the name suggests, they’re also double wall cups, made with heat-resistant borosilicate glass with air in between. So they have effective insulation that will keep your latte warm for longer. They’re microwave safe and oven safe, so you can even use them for food.
If you’re like me, you particularly enjoy watching your dark espresso blend with the milky foam to produce a palette of color!
And to top it all off, they’re dishwasher safe. So you can bet maintenance is always a breeze with these cups!
A factor that plays a role in how nice your latte art ends up is how steady you can hold your cup during your pour. It helps keep the cup steady when the handle is bigger. The Teocera jumbo mugs’ handles are perfect.
They’re not too big, and they’re squared off on top. The mugs are also made of porcelain, so they’re super lightweight and comfortable to hold!
Like cappuccino cups, they’re rounded at the bottom and wide up top, so they’re perfect for practicing your latte art skills. And they’re just big enough so that you can warm both your hands while cupping them. If you don’t already do that on cold rainy mornings, you’re missing out!
Similar to Bodum’s double-wall glass cups, these mugs are oven safe, so you can also prepare food in them. Any single-serve cake recipes you’ve been meaning to try?
If you’re interested in latte art, you probably have an eye for design. If so, you might be following a particular color swatch in your kitchen and prefer the selection that Coffeezone offers for their latte art cups and saucers. I particularly like glossy light blue and matte brown!
The shape of this coffee cup is ideal for making latte art, as it is wide and shallow with a round bottom. It’s made of new bone china, which is finer, whiter, and more durable than standard porcelain. It also has a thick body that keeps its contents warm. You can use this cup for coffee, tea, and just about any other beverage.
This is also the only cup on this list that comes with a saucer. None of the other options come with saucers of their own.
The only downside of this cup is that it only has a 10.5-oz capacity. That’s a lot smaller than the previous options on this list. Although that means less coffee, it could also mean more savings. So if that appeals to you, this could be a worthy purchase!
These Norpro coffee mugs are made of white porcelain, so they’re perfect if you or someone you know are into DIY decorating.
They’re nice and clean, and the white color is ideal for drawing on with a marker or painting over. The fact that they’re 16 oz cups helps since they give you a large surface area to get creative with.
These cups also have the ideal shape for making latte art, with a big handle that makes it comfortable to keep steady. They’re dishwasher safe and microwave safe, so owning them is hassle-free.
Whether you’re looking for a coffee cup to decorate yourself or just a high quality, white porcelain cup, Norpro’s jumbo mugs fit the bill perfectly.
This jumbo coffee mug by Home Basics has the largest capacity among all the coffee cups on this list. If you would like the option to supersize your coffee, this is a good pick for you. And it’s perfect if you enjoy adding a lot of milk to your cup for espresso-based drinks!
It has a pretty small handle for its size, so it’s difficult to carry with one hand. That might make doing latte art tricky too, since it involves filling the cup with espresso and milk. But it’s still definitely possible if you don’t have any wrist injuries to worry about.
Although it is a bit on the heavy side, this cappuccino cup is crafted with high-quality ceramic that’s built to last many years. It’s sturdy, dishwasher safe, and it will keep your coffee warm for you for a long time.
These latte cups are the best bundle in the group. If you have a big family or live with a lot of people, these pro-grade porcelain cups would be an upgrade from almost all breakfast mugs. They’re sturdy and chip-resistant cups that will serve their purpose for a long time.
You can choose whether you want them in different colors or in all white, to match those white saucers you already own!
They’re oven, freezer, and microwave safe, so they’re super easy to use. And they’re also dishwasher safe, so they’re easy to maintain too!
And though they’re more similar in shape to the Bodum double wall cups than the ideal rounded bottom of a cappuccino cup, they’re still usable for latte art because of their wide tops. If you’re looking to get the best value for your money, this bundle will suit you well!
How to Become a Latte Art Master
Before I teach you, I just want to remind you that latte art about as necessary to your coffee as having beautiful handwriting is to an essay.
It’s an art form, but you definitely don’t need it for a delicious cup of coffee. But if you’re just that determined to learn how to make art on your coffee with milk, then I won’t delay you any further!
What You Need
There are four main “ingredients” to a successful pour.
The espresso is the foundation of your latte. It’s what gives your coffee flavor, and the crema serves as the canvas for your latte art.
For your canvas, you’ll want something that will allow you to create your artwork the way you see it in your mind. If your espresso crema is too thick, it will be difficult to flesh out patterns on it with milk. If it’s too thin, the milk will end up mixing with the espresso.
Getting the espresso right involves using the ideal grind size, dose, tamping pressure, and extraction time for your coffee beans. If you’re not familiar with those terms, you can check out this article for more information! Also, if you need to check out our list of the our favorite espresso beans as a base for your brew.
So we’ve got your canvas down. Let’s move on to your medium: the milk. The way to steam milk is to first aerate it (when the steaming wand makes a hissing sound and shoots out steam) until the milk the pitcher is the same temperature as your hand. Hold the pitcher at the bottom to be able to do this.
Once you feel that your hand and the pitcher’s temperature are the same, submerge the head of the wand below the milk’s surface. When the milk is almost too hot to touch, turn the steaming wand off (for your sake, trust me!).
Your milk should now resemble wet paint. It’s shiny, smooth, and slightly thicker than it was before you steamed it. It shouldn’t have big bubbles, and it should coat the sides of your milk pitcher when you swirl it. If it has bubbles, tap it on a counter to pop them. These bubbles can ruin your artwork!
The Right Mug
What you’ll want in a cup is a narrow or rounded bottom and a wide, round rim so that your design is symmetrical and you can get your milk as close to the coffee as possible while you’re doing your pour.
You’ll also want a cup that’s easy to carry, so you don’t strain your wrists while performing the pour. A smaller cup with a big handle is better for people who have weaker wrists.
Then, there are the personal preferences you have in owning tableware. You may prefer that your cups come with saucers, in which case Coffeezone’s offering would be the best pick for you. If you want something that will give you feedback on your steaming, you could go for Bodum’s double-walled glass set.
Cappuccino cups are usually the best option for practicing latte art, only because they fit the requirements for it exactly. But they’re not necessary at all! As long as a cup is shallow, wide, and symmetrical, you can use it to make latte art with.
Sleight of Hand
Lastly, it takes a tremendous amount of body control to make latte art. Your wrist makes swirling actions as you pour milk into a cappuccino cup, which you have to hold steady with your other hand. On top of that, you have to vary the pitcher’s angle to differentiate pouring thinly from pouring thickly.
It’s a delicate craft to master, but I promise it will be so rewarding when you’re finally able to do it.
How to Pour the Best Latte Coffee
It’s finally time to make yourself some art!
To start out, tilt your cup towards the pitcher and hold the pitcher a slight distance above it. Let the milk thinly pour and guide your milk around the espresso. You want it to penetrate the surface of the crema without washing out your espresso.
When your espresso cup is around half full, dive the pitcher down until it’s almost touching the crema. Now, you can create designs with your coffee using a thicker pour, continuously or one after the other as you please. You can also pull your shapes in specific directions by using a thin pour.
Mug Size for Latte Art
I enjoy a small espresso shot usually with my coffee, so the best size for me would be the 10.5 oz cup and saucer from Coffeezone. But for practicing latte art, a 15 oz cup like the double-walled glass set of Bodum could be more ideal. Though it’s harder to keep steady, it provides a bigger “canvas” for you to practice on!
If you like consuming ridiculous amounts of coffee (although I would advise against taking too much caffeine) or you’re just willing to consume half a carton of milk so you can have a bigger canvas for your latte art, 22 oz would likely be the best size for you.
Coffee Cup Material
Different materials have their own advantages.
Double-walled glass cups often have good insulation, so they’re especially useful for hot cups of coffee. Some cappuccino cups are ceramic, so they tend to be thicker, heavier, and more sturdy. Meanwhile, there are also porcelain cups that are more lightweight and fragile.
Since you’ll be the one using the cappuccino cup, I think you should decide which material you’d be more comfortable with. You might be more comfortable with a porcelain cup because it’s lighter, or less comfortable with it. After all, it’s fragile.
The more comfortable you are handling your cup, the easier for you to learn!
The Final Verdict
The best latte cup, in my opinion, is Bodum’s double wall glass cup.
It has excellent insulation and is perfect for practicing latte art. And because it’s made of glass, it lets you practice getting the correct milk-to-foam ratios correctly for flat whites, lattes, and cappuccinos too.
That’s even more important than coffee art if you want to be a good barista!
But whether you’re planning to buy Bodum’s double wall cups or some Coffeezone saucers and cappuccino cups, remember to weigh the pros and cons of your options and read as many reviews as possible before deciding on a purchase. Remember that the best coffee cup for you is the one you’re most comfortable with buying.
Remember to practice!
You might not immediately get the hang of making latte art (I know I didn’t), but you will eventually if you just keep at it.
And lastly, enjoy it! Maybe I’ll see your artwork on Instagram someday.