Latte art - new trend of Vietnamese coffee lovers

by PV26 September 2015 Last updated at 10:10 AM

VTV.vn - Imported by the French into Vietnam more than one hundred years ago, coffee is not only a familiar drink but also a special culture for many Hanoians.

However, people's tastes and expectations have gradually changed and Vietnamese coffee drinkers are eagerly absorbing new ways to sample their favourite beverage.

Latte art is a method of preparing coffee created by pouring steamed milk into a shot of espresso, resulting in a pattern or design on the surface of the coffee cup. These designs can also be created or embellished by simply drawing on the top layer of foam. Latte art is particularly difficult to create consistently, due to the demanding conditions required of both the espresso shot and milk. This, in turn, is limited by the experience of the barista and quality of the coffee.

Nguyen The Hung, Director, Interbeso Training Center said: For a new barista, this stirrer is very necessary. You can use this tool to draw on the coffee cup. When you are more trained, after the milk was steamed, you just need to shake the milk container, strongly or lightly, pour in a long or short distance, in high or low position, you can create any images you want. The second tool that you need is this thermometer to calculate the temperature of the milk. If you want to create a nice image, firstly you need to steam the milk at the right temperature of 60-65 degree Celsius. At this temperature, the foam is the best for you to create latte art.

Nguyen The Hung first knew about latte art in 1998 when he studied in New Zealand. At that time, he was impressed by the image created by a barista of a flower on the top of a coffee in just 10 seconds.

"I wished I could do like them. When I first learned to make latte, I found it very hard. But then I focused on the teachers’ hands, how they held the pen and how they poured the steamed milk. I recorded them on a camera and realised that it was not as hard as it seemed. What’s most important in drawing a good latte cup is to produce perfect espresso. You can control your hands, shaking them strongly or lightly to make a shape you want.", Nguyen The Hung added.

10 years later, in 2008, after graduating with a master's degree in hotel tourism management and bartendering in Switzerland, Hung decided to open a vocational training centre specialising in bartending and drinks in Hanoi.

In 2013, machine made coffee grew in popularity. But not many baritas can master latte art because the price for a coffee machine is quite high. Moreover, there are few people who truly understand coffee. Those who usually favour traditional black coffee won’t enjoy coffee mixed with milk. So latte coffee drinkers are usually 18 to 30 years old. They don’t only drink coffee forthe taste but also enjoy experiencing it through their eyes.

Nguyen Thanh Cong, Trainee said: Drink is not merely for enjoyment. But you really can elevate it into a kind of art. You can not only make drink that is tasty but also beautiful as well.

There are two main types of latte art: free pouring, where the pattern is created during the pour and etching - using a tool to create a pattern after the pour. The two most common forms of poured latte art are a heart shape and the fern which resembles a type of flower or fern.

Etched patterns range from simple geometric shapes to complicated drawings, such as crosshatching, images of animals and flowers, and are generally performed with a coffee stirrer.

"During three days of learning latte art, you will learn to draw 3 basic shapes. From these 3 shapes, you can work on making different versions of these shapes. For example, I can make a heart shape in the coffee cup but you can make two-heart shapes. I can make a tulip but you can try drawing 2 tulips symmetrically. This is where you can maximise your creativity.", Nguyen The Hung added.

Coffee itself may be beautiful with various colours and flavours. But with your own creativity, you can make a piece of art right in front of your eyes.

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