The Tip Jar - Hot Drink Presentation

Tuesday November 11, 2014 // By Landon Christensen

It’s been said that we “eat with our eyes first” - I don’t know about you, but that saying brings an amusing visual to mind… However, I believe that statement is completely accurate. Have you ever been to a high-end restaurant where they bring your $35 steak on a paper plate with a red Solo cup and plastic cutlery? Of course not! Part of the reason we spend a fortune on a meal like that is for the experience, for the atmosphere, things besides the food itself. While consuming food and drink is a means of survival it’s becoming more of an outlet for entertainment. Coffee is the same way.

If you can appeal to all of the customer’s senses opposed to just one with the drinks you serve, the chances of leaving an impacting experience increases significantly! The drink itself will appeal to the sense of taste and smell. The texture and consistency of the drink can appeal to the mouth’s sense of touch. What about hearing? Do people hear their beverage? Perhaps the sound of the steam wand frothing milk for their latte or a blender crushing ice for a smoothie or frappe that gets slurped as it is nearly empty. Lastly is sight, how does the drink look? If they are going to be staying in your shop to enjoy their beverage, then you can do more with presentation regarding cups, saucers and any side item such as a biscotti or chocolate disk.

Regardless of whether the customer stays or leaves, there are a few things you still can do to enhance presentation. Probably the easiest presentation, and one of the most common, is using whipped cream. You can either use store bought or make your own using one of the iSi whip cream chargers, which we offer. Great on top of steamers, hot chocolates, mochas and more! Simply start around the edge of the cup and building on the previous layer, slowly working your way in. Once you’ve done that you can either garnish by sprinkling chocolate or cinnamon powder on top, another option would be to drizzle your choice of sauce over the whipped cream.

If you want to do something a little more subtle without whipped cream you can do etching or free pour latte art. Etching is done by pouring a drink and then drizzling sauce on top in a pattern. After that’s done you would take a toothpick or another thin tool and draw on the layers of the drink which would create a unique pattern by pulling the sauce and the drink’s surface together. This typically works best with something involving steamed or frothed milk as the sauce needs a dense surface to rest on.

Lastly, there is free pour latte art which can take some work to get the hang of. The key here is to have nice microfoam on your steamed milk. If your microfoam is too fluffy, it will turn into a blob on top of the drink. If it’s too thin, it will meld together with the espresso and you won’t have any definition. If you haven’t seen our milk steaming tutorial video, I recommend watching that before continuing.

There are three main designs that are done in latte art. If you master these three, you can virtually do any pour you want. The heart, the tulip and the rosetta or fern, which is what I’ll be explaining. After you pull your shots of espresso, start pouring the milk in a thin stream into the espresso, pour high enough that the milk cuts through the espresso instead of laying on top. You need to build a base first so the milk foam will lay out when you’re ready to mark the espresso with your design. When you want to begin your design lower the pitcher and get close to the crema while slowly rocking the pitcher back and forth. Pull back from the edge of the cup as you do this. Once you reach the other end of your cup, lift the pitcher and draw a thin line through the center of your design pulling it all together. Again, don’t get frustrated… I’ve been practicing latte art for almost 2 years and still practice multiple days a week on my technique.

Those are the basics of hot drink presentation. There’s a lot of really unique designs you can do combining whipped cream, etching and latte art! Just be aware that no amount of presentation can replace a well made drink. I’ve had awful coffee with beautiful latte art in it and I’ve also had delicious coffee with little to no presentation whatsoever. Always focus on the quality of the beverage first and foremost!

Be sure to watch our video tutorial for this blog here and if you have any questions please feel free to contact us by email or toll-free at 1-866-776-5288. We would love to talk!


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