Introduction: A Barista's Guide to Crafting the Perfect Latte

Are you tired of overpaying for coffee? What if I told you that you could make your go-to coffee order at home easily? As a barista at two different coffee shops, I have made my fair share of lattes. They are surprisingly easy to make, and I’m going to let you in on a barista’s tips and tricks crafting the perfect latte. By the end of this tutorial, you’ll be able to make your favorite latte from the comfort of your home, and you’ll never have to overpay for coffee again!

Step 1: Supplies

A basic understanding of how to use an espresso machine will be required. Every machine is a little different, so it is important to be familiar with the machine before beginning. Supplies needed include a small cup or pitcher for the milk, a cup for the latte, an espresso tamper or something to pack espresso grounds into the portafilter with, an espresso machine, a portafilter for the espresso machine, a coffee bean grinder, roughly three tablespoons of espresso beans, about ¾ cup of milk and any sugar or syrups wanted.

Step 2: Grinding the Beans

Grinding the beans right before making the latte will result in the best taste. First, pour the beans into the grinder, and grind them until they are very fine, almost to the consistency of powdered sugar. For fancier grinders with different settings, set it to “turkish.” Once the beans are ground, scoop them into the portafilter. Fill the portafilter until there is a small gap between the top of the grounds and the edge of the portafilter.

Step 3: Pulling the Shot

Now for the fun part, pulling the shot! The grounds must first be carefully packed into the portafilter. This is a very important step, and must be done properly to avoid creating a channel in the grounds that could impact the flavor and strength of the espresso. First, press the tamper into the portafilter once. Now, lightly tap the portafilter on the countertop to help settle the stray grounds. Lastly, press the tamper firmly into the portafilter once more, and twist. This will help to secure and evenly distribute the grounds in the portafilter. Place the portafilter in the espresso machine, place a cup below the spout of the portafilter, add sugar or syrups to the cup so desired, and press start. The result will be a lovely, rich espresso shot!

Step 4: Frothing the Milk

Now, onto frothing the milk. This step must be done with care, as it creates the smooth consistency that is found in the best lattes. On the end of the espresso machine is a steam wand. It is important to purge the wand first by turning it on and letting steam out of it for about five seconds. It’s time to begin frothing! Pour the milk into the stainless steel pitcher, and place the end of the steam wand in the milk. No more than half an inch of the steam wand should be submerged in the milk. Place the steam wand so it is close to the edge of the pitcher rather than the center, and turn the wand on. The force of the steam should push the milk in a circular motion. If it doesn’t, adjust the position of the wand until it does. Leave the wand on until it is no longer making noise, and the milk looks similar to white paint.

Step 5: Putting It All Together!

It’s time to combine the milk and the espresso! Before combining the two, make sure that the espresso has been mixed well with the sweetener if any has been used. Now, pour the milk into the espresso cup slowly. Move the pitcher in a circular motion to make the latte more visually appealing. The result will be a delicious homemade latte!