Latte artist Kohei Matsuno  -

Latte artist Kohei Matsuno –

The words “art” and “latte” were not synonymous a decade ago. But in recent years, baristas cleverly using their milk-pouring skills to carve pretty leaves, hearts and flowers into milk-foam topped drinks has become something that is almost expected, and always appreciated, in the gourmet coffee realm.

The world over, these so-called latte artists are becoming renowned for their ability to create memorable images with the seemingly simple combination of steamed milk and rich, dark brown espresso.

Here are five fun facts about latte art, a popular and constantly growing art-form in the world of coffee:

1. In the world of latte art there are two main schools of this relatively new art form: free-pouring and etching.

2. Free-pouring relates to creating the pattern during the pouring of the espresso and the steamed milk, while etching involves using a tool such as a toothpick to create a pattern after the pouring.

3. Free-pouring is the more popular form of latte art, and is the method that has resulted in the two most recognizable latte art patterns — the heart shape and the a fern-like rosetta design.

4. Latte art is made possible by the combination of the crema (which is an emulsion of coffee oil and brewed coffee) and the microfoam, which is a foam of air in milk.

5. Today, free pouring latte art designs (such as the heart and the rosetta) have become pretty much standard practice when making drinks, and many baristas take part in international latte art competitions.