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Help! Problem with small hearts

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  • Help! Problem with small hearts

    Hi I'm Aimee and I'm in Canberra. I've been chancing accross this forum occassionally during my coffee-related google searches, and I've been finding it very informative and useful.

    Now I'm posting for the first time, and out of desperation because I'm having a problem with my latte art. My heart designs usually come out too small, if at all. For some reason I can't get the foam to mark the crema.

    I've tried swirling the pitcher to make sure that the foam mixes with the milk, and I've also tried pouring so low that the pitcher almost touches the crema. I've tried pouring faster also, but these techniques have not been much help to me except for one time, I got a perfect heart and it was a total fluke. I have not been able to re-create it since. If I could just identify the problem, I could perhaps focus on that instead of getting hit-and-misses all the time. I'm suspecting that maybe it's my milk-steaming, but it would be great if someone could confirm that for me!

    I've included a video of my technique here. Please let me know what I'm doing wrong. I would be much obliged.

    Thank you.

  • #2
    Hi aimee5,

    Welcome to CS! The texturing process looks ok, you might want to try putting your wand closer to the middle instead of hard up against the side. the sound while texturing seem good so you are making microfoam and not hard foam. From the video I'd suggest dropping your milk jug spout towards the cup in a shorter time to allow the milk to surface faster. By the time you pull your spout close to have the microfoam surface the cup was already full. Another thing try tilting the cup so that you can get closer to the shot with the tip of the jug when you drop it down. Hope this helps.


    • #3
      Just an addition to saoye good advice. Yes tilting the cup more of an angle, say 45° for the first half of the pour will help you a lot. When you bring the tip of the jug down close to start the surface pattern, simultaneously sit your cup flat on the bench and this can help fan out the foam on the surface for more elaborate patterns.


      • #4
        Hi Aimee and welcome to CS.

        Your technique might need a little bit of tweaking.

        1. The sound during the first part of texturing.... the slight squeal sound; that's caused by having the tip too deep in the milk at the start.
        As you finish texturing the sound increases as well, this indicates again that the tip has been too deep. Well textured milk should be almost
        'silent' at the finish.

        2. The position of the tip on the milk surface in the jug is less critical.... but should be positioned at the spot where you can achieve a
        whirlpool or strong roll of the milk.

        3. It appears from the video that there hasn't been much volume increase; this would also indicate improper stretching and when you pour,
        the milk seems just a little thin..... it should be like creamy paint. A bit hard to tell from the video and the hand in the way but I think you're pretty close! ;-)

        4. Your pouring technique isn't really the issue although as described above, it could be changed. Setting the crema at the start of the pour is done
        by pouring the milk in a circular motion around the edge of the cup about two or three times, fairly quickly, then moving to a point
        about 1/3 towards the centre. As you bring the milk jug down to the surface you push the spout more towards the centre to float the pattern
        on the rising milk under the surface. There are slightly different techniques for different patterns and what you are doing is ok. Slow it down at the
        end when you are forming the heart; you can see it start to push out from the spout and form but you rush the end and stop the pour too early .

        5. The 'pull-through' of the milk stream to form the heart at the end of the pour is a little fast and heavy handed, contributing to the distortion of the pattern.

        6. Use the side of the milk jug to brace against the wand so you can have more over control the jug movement.

        7. Good latté art is more about good milk texture and control than anything else.

        8. For some awesome latté art, including video of pour technique, Google my mate Alan Chan Coffee (alanchancoffee)

        9. I have zero experience on the machine you are using so my comments may be not right for it.


        • #5
          Hey Aimee,

          I think chokkidog is right on the money here. From the pour, it looks like the milk Needs more texture. Try letting more air in when you start steaming your milk.

          Your pour looks alright but you may want to try holding the cup rather than resting it on the bench. You'll get more control over the tilt of the cup.

          Good Luck!


          • #6
            On my computer the video has no audio but it would squeal a bit on start up because it's a thermoblock machine and it takes a short time to come up to pressure. Because of this, you should wait for 5-10 seconds before trying any techniques for the steam pressure to stabilise.

            The BES870 is a capable machine with a good steam tip and pretty good power.
            The comments about holding the wand tip too close to the side is on point, you want the tip around where it is from 1:00 onwards in the video basically the whole time. You want a powerful whirlpool effect rather than a bubbling effect. The bubbling effect (pretty sure that's not the right term but hopefully you know what I mean) is good for use on powerful steamers but the BES870 is not up to that level, the powerful whirlpool is what you want to see. You can achieve this by either angling the jug or angling the steam wand. I find angling the jug to be more convenient.

            Integrate a bit more air in the first half of the steaming process then focus on keeping the whirlpool going until you get the milk up to temperature. The final result should be a deep, wet paint looking sheen on the surface of the milk.


            • #7
              Thank you for the advice! Yes it seems to be a foam problem. I had thought before that my milk-texturing was okay. But today I tried putting the wand in further from the side of the pitcher, and aerating a bit longer and tried to get the whirlpool effect instead of the 'bubbling' effect. And making sure that the volume of the milk increased a bit so that it was getting aerated.

              The cup-tilting also helped. I guess I didn't do it in the video because I didn't want to block the view. But this morning I got this:

              It's not spectacular but I'm already feeling that I have a bit more control over the milk and how the art is turning out ... feeling encouraged to keep trying! Will keep perfecting this over the next few weeks.

              Thanks so much for the advice! It's priceless!

              noidle22: Yes its a BES870. Got it with my birthday money last month and I'm totally in love with it!


              • #8
                Nice one! You'll be nailing it in no time!


                • #9
                  The angle of steam wand is a bit off and also you are not stretching the milk enough! You need to mix the milk with creama, tilt the cup more like 45 degree to the bench, then stop and pour the heart!


                  • #10
                    Hi Aimee,

                    I've had the BES870 for longer than you and that last photo is better than anything I've ever done! Admittedly I gave up on latte art pretty early but your improvement has inspired me to give it another shot.

                    What are your thoughts on the machine itself? I'm a big fan but I'm finding the grinder limiting for me, so looking to buy something else.

                    Good luck and enjoy the coffee!