Latte art only really works (and is only really worth it) when the drink is as delicious as it is beautiful. Always start with freshly steamed, microfoamed milk and an expertly pulled shot of espresso with its crema still intact.
Start High and Slow
Start out by pouring a thin stream of milk from a slightly elevated position above the cup—three inches or so should do. The milk should sink right underneath the coffee, which strengthens the foundation of the brown crema that is your “canvas.”
Bring it Down Low
In order to make the tulip, what you’re really going to do is pour three incomplete hearts: To form the bottom layer, bring the pitcher down low enough to touch the side of the cup, while increasing the amount of milk you’re pouring out.
Interrupt the Flow
When a white circle or ring appears on the coffee, lift the pitcher up again and stop pouring milk. Practice will help you get this first white blob looking neat and symmetrical.
The cup should be about a third of the way full at this point.
Bring it Down Low...Again
Repeat the third step in this process by pouring a steady, aggressive stream of milk with the pitcher down low enough to touch or almost touch the cup itself. Your milk stream should fall just north of the existing white blob on the coffee: What you're doing is trying to create a smaller version of that first blob, which will become the second layer of your finished tulip.
The cup can be about halfway to two-thirds full by now.
Just as before, lift the pitcher slightly to halt the second layer.
Pour the Top and Finish ‘er Off
Repeat the bring-it-down-low step one more time to create the smallest top part of the flower, and then “pierce” the design to bring it together by slowly lifting the spout of the pitcher while pouring the last bit of milk in a thin stream through the middle of the circular blobs you’ve placed on the coffee.
Your goal is for the layers to be symmetrical and uniform in shape, though slightly different in size (bigger on the bottom).
Tulips for You
With a little work, you’ll learn to pour three, four, five, six layers—possibly even more! Now—go give it a try!