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Posted by on Feb 14, 2012 | 0 comments

A Valentine in the Shape of a Latte Foam Heart

A Valentine in the Shape of a Latte Foam Heart

If you visit a coffee shop today, maybe you’ll get a latte or hot chocolate with a foam heart for Valentine’s Day. I know I’ll be the happy recipient of one at Buzz Bakery in Alexandria if barista Matt is manning the espresso machine. And not just on Valentine’s Day and not because he’s sweet on me. Every single latte he makes comes with this artistic flourish.

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Making latte art requires dedication and hours of practice as I learned from chatting with Matt at Buzz one afternoon. He was kind enough to welcome me (and my daughter) behind the counter to watch him make several perfect foam hearts in quick succession.

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Matt says it took him about six months of daily practice to learn to make the foam heart consistently. He competes in barista competitions and clocks many hours of practice pulling shots at night (and working on his latte art) when the coffee shop is closed.

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That’s not to say, he assured me, that you won’t have success trying one at home. It’s not like you’re striving to make one perfectly every few minutes like Matt is. Maybe you just want to make one for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day.

Matt gave me a quick lesson in how to make the latte “fern” or “heart.” The best medium for latte heart, he said, is two-percent milk because it holds the image well, unlike whole milk which has too many oils, and non-fat, which is too watery.

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As you pour the steamed milk over the espresso, you keep the cup still while you gently but quickly move the pitcher left and right and you “draw” the image through the center of the cup.

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You make the sides smaller as you go.

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When you get to the end, as the final flourish, you lift up the pitcher and draw the milk swiftly back up the center to form the curves at the top of a heart and the point.

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Matt was so generous with his time and one of the friendliest baristas I’ve ever met. He even made my daughter her own hot chocolate with a foam heart.

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Happy Valentine’s Day from DIY Del Ray!

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