Latte Art is Hot in the Upper East Side of Texas
A steaming latte topped with fluffy foam sits on a coffee shop table. Floating atop the foam is the image of a heart, a latte art masterpiece of the barista’s own creation. Over the past few years, specialty coffee shops in the Upper East Side of Texas started serving more latte art, and the results are fit to showcase in galleries.
“I noticed latte art becoming popular around five years ago and loved it,” said Connor Walters, manager of Longview’s Bridge 281 Coffee Shop. “It looks gorgeous as part of the presentation. It literally is a small, custom art design in each drink. In a few years it will be the standard at specialty shops where it’s not already.”
Latte art is made by pouring milk that has been frothed with a steam wand on top of an espresso shot. Designs are created in the milk foam by using techniques known as “free-pouring” and “etching.” The most popular latte art designs created by baristas are rosettas, which is a shape that resembles a fern leaf, hearts and tulips. These shapes are usually created by free-pouring, which is done by making precise hand movements while pouring milk into the espresso. More detailed designs, such as the faces of famous musicians and cartoon characters, are created by etching, which uses small objects such as toothpicks or needles to move the foam into the desired shapes.
“Latte art starts with the shot and the milk,” said Jeremy Standifer, owner of The Life House coffee shop and eatery in Rockwall. “If your attention to detail is not there at that level, you cannot perform the pouring techniques that make the art. After mastering extracting coffee, steaming and texturing milk, and finally learning to free-pour, it can take months to years to master the different designs.”
Successful latte art is dependent upon the quickness and care with which the drink is made. The espresso must be of the best quality and at the proper temperature. If the espresso is too hot, the foam and latte art melts into the drink. If a detailed, etched design is created, the artwork is made quickly so the coffee is not be cold when it reaches the customer. Every step of the latte-making process is taken into consideration.
“You have to have fresh-roasted beans, the grind size just right, the espresso extracted properly, the milk textured perfectly and the way you pour the milk into the espresso performed with precision,” Walters said. “Latte art usually means that you have made the drink really well.”
While most chain coffee houses have switched to automatic machines that cannot be used to make latte art, local specialty coffee shops use high-quality manual machines to create artworks that reflect the unique personality of each shop. Latte art made in this way is found at Bridge 281, The Life House and many other independently owned coffee houses in Northeast Texas. According to Connor, Bridge 281 hopes to send a message with its carefully-crafted lattes.
“The reason we work to provide latte art is because we want the satisfaction of knowing that something was made as best as it possibly could be,” Walters said. “Also, we want that attitude to inspire customers to approach what they do in the same way.”
The Life House hopes their coffee shop brings Rockwall’s community together by brightening their customers’ days with specialized latte artworks. Standifer also hopes The Life House brings attention to Rockwall’s local businesses.
“We have what we call, ‘The Local,’” he said. “It is a honey-infused milk latte using local honey, local milk that we always use from Mill-King Creamery, and dusted with a proprietary topping. Our goal is to expose people to the awesome local food and artisans around us, all while making their experience one that connects them with each other and our community.”
Along with its many other positive affects, latte art is becoming a social media sensation. Walters and Standifer both agree that, more often than not, the latte art they serve is photographed by customers and posted to social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
“Everyone loves latte art,” Walters said. “When we serve a drink with latte art, usually it gets its picture taken and shared with friends. People feel that they’ve gotten something amazing (because they have), and more often than not, it opens up a great conversation, and perhaps the start of a friendship.”
Standifer hopes that bonds are built at The Life House through bringing people together to enjoy lattes and products made by local artisans.
“We are constantly looking to grow and add different offerings,” he said. “We want to continue to expose our community to crazy-good coffee, breads, pastries, and eats all while bringing people together and building community.”
Walters plans to continue his efforts to build community at Bridge 281. A step that is in the works to further this community-building process is to extend Bridge 281’s hours, making the coffee shop available during the day as well as at night.
“We want to be more conducive to building relationships, pursuing the creative process, and hosting inspiring events,” he said. “If all that can happen over an incredibly made cup of coffee, we think that’s amazing.”
Certified Organic: Coffee is considered Certified Organic if the coffee is farmed with natural renewable resources, as well as water and soil conservation.
Dark Roast: Dark, almost black, with ample amounts of oil present on the surface. Almost, or all origin characteristics are gone, the body is beginning to decrease, the flavor is thin, and usually tastes of the roast, including charcoal, bitter flavors, and very low acidity.
Direct Trade: When coffee roasters buy directly from farms rather than from brokers. Proponents say it increases coffee quality and gives farmers more power.
Espresso: Concentrated coffee made when hot water is forced at pressure through fine coffee grounds. Usually slightly less than 2 ounces total. Baristas prefer 8 to 10 bars of pressure and 15 to 25 grams of coffee.
Etching: is the practice of literally drawing on a coffee with a thin rod, such as a toothpick, in order to create images in the coffee.
Extraction: Drawing flavor from coffee grounds. Coffee can be underextracted and taste sour or overextracted and taste bitter.
Fair Trade: A private program that certifies that farmers or coffee growers are paid a minimum price for coffee.
Fragrance: The sensation of the gases released from ground coffee as they are inhaled through the nose. Ranges from sweetly floral to sweetly spicy.
Free Pour Latte Art: Involves the pouring of milk straight from a jug into a cup of espresso. While the milk is flowing into the cup a combination of wrist and hand movements are used to bend and shape the way the milk flows into the coffee.
Latte: Espresso with steamed milk, 8 ounces or more total.
Latte Art: The pattern formed by rhythmically pouring steamed milk into an espresso drink. Decorative and demonstrative; only properly steamed milk will hold a form.
Latte Macchiato: A latte made by pouring the espresso in last, on top of the milk and foam.
Light Roast: No oil, usually cinnamon, or a little darker in color. Lighter body, more flavor of origin and acidity comes through.
Macchiato: A Macchiato is a single or double shot of espresso, marked with a bit of foam or frothed milk, usually with close to equal portions espresso and foam or frothed milk.
Medium Roast: Very little to no oil present. Milk chocolate in color, has added depth of body at the cost of some acidity, and possibly at the cost of some origin characteristics.
Microfoamed Milk: The end result of milk exposed to high-powered steam.
Organic: An organically-grown coffee must be certified by an international agency as having been grown without synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. Somewhat lower yields and the considerable cost of the certification process account for the higher prices demanded for many organic coffees.
Pull: Espresso shots are “pulled.” The term is a holdover from when machines were lever operated.
Roast: Unpalatable green beans are heated to create complex flavors that are extracted during brewing.
Roast Date: Most small-batch roasters print the roast date on bags of coffee. The rule of thumb is that coffee should be used within two weeks, and some coffee bars won’t sell beans more than a week after they have been roasted.
Seasonal Coffee: Coffee beans ripen at different times of the year in different regions, and can appear in markets and coffee bars for limited times.
Single Origin: Coffee from a particular region, farm or area within a farm.
Steam Wand: The arm on an espresso machine that is used to heat and froth milk. Pressurized steam is released from the steam boiler through the steam wand, and through the nozzle on the end, and into the milk, which is frothed by the introduction of air made possible by the technique of the barista.
Upper East Side of Texas
Brady’s Coffee Shop - Tyler
Standpipe Coffee House – Lufkin
The Flying Grape & Bean Coffee
Gift House – Gun Barrel City
Paris Coffee Company – Paris
Java Junkies Coffee Bar & Bakery – Terrell
Cream & Coffee – Palestine
Café Bhojana Java – Tyler
Central Perks – Marshall
R&R Bakery and Coffee Shop – Marshall
The Texas Tea Room – Carthage
Bridge 281 Coffee House – Longview
Art & Espresso – Winnsboro
Kickerz! – Whitehouse, Tyler, Gresham
The Foundry Coffee House – Tyler
Downtown Coffee Lounge – Tyler
Java Jacks Coffee House – Nacogdoches
The Coffee Mill – Longview
Barron’s Coffee – Longview
The Arc – Longview
GoodDay Coffee + Books – Kilgore
Grounds for Justice Coffee
Shop & Mercantile – Tyler
Main Street Coffee House – Hallsville
Jacksonville Joe’s – Jacksonville
Fat Guy’s Coffee – Paris
Taste Buds Candy and
Coffee Café – Mineola
Henry’s House of Java – Mineola
Brew Haha Coffee and
Sandwich Shop – Mineola
Coffee Love – Athens
Hastings Hardback Café – Mt. Pleasant
The Coffee Shop at Lake
Cypress Springs – Scroggins
Taylors Coffee Shop – Pittsburg