Latte Art: How to Draw a Tulip on Your Coffee

Pour the Top and Finish ‘er Off

Repeat the bring-it-down-low step one more time to create the smallest top part of the flower, and then “pierce” the design to bring it together by slowly lifting the spout of the pitcher while pouring the last bit of milk in a thin stream through the middle of the circular blobs you’ve placed on the coffee.

Your goal is for the layers to be symmetrical and uniform in shape, though slightly different in size (bigger on the bottom).

Alice Gao / Serious Eats

Now that you've learned how to make the classic rosetta on top of a latte, let's talk about another popular design: The tulip.

A variation on the simple heart design, the tulip has become a favorite not only in latte-art competitions (yes, that's a real thing), but also as an elegant flourish atop cappuccinos, in which it's often difficult to pour a more delicate rosetta.

The basic principles are roughly the same as for any latte-decoration: You'll need to start with a base of expertly steamed, microfoamed milk, as well as a sturdy and well-pulled espresso shot with a thick head of crema.

The milk and coffee really are key—pouring a beautiful design with subpar ingredients is the latte equivalent of putting lipstick on a pig, so be sure to make the drink as delicious as it is beautiful.


Serious Eats

Once you've got the elements ready to go, the technique is all about patience, timing, and control. A great barista learns to "read" the milk as it marries with the coffee, making sure to drive the design by primarily focusing on the proximity of the milk pitcher to the surface of the coffee, as well as the volume of steamed milk he or she is pouring.

And as with any other little professional flourish a master might, well, master, it takes a lot of practice. Don't give up just because your first tulip looks like a textbook photo of a ruptured appendix. Stick with it, and one day maybe you'll be going for the gold.

For step-by-step instructions, click through to the slideshow!