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How to Make Latte Art When You’re Not a Barista

Updated November 25, 2019
plate of waffles and cup of latte with heart made of sprinkles on top
Making a latte look extra fancy takes a crash course in coffee art—or does it?
It might not be “authentic,” but we think our DIY method of decorating a warm cup of joe is just a cute, and more importantly, just as delicious. Give any occasion from breakfasts in bed to at-home coffee dates a little pizzazz with our special method for creating designs to deck your latte.

First, Make the Latte

There are a few ways you can make an at-home latte. If you have an espresso maker that can make espresso and steam milk, then lucky you! Skip ahead to the decorating section. If you don’t have the ability to make a shot of espresso in your kitchen, a strong cup of coffee is a great substitute. And if you don’t have a milk steamer, simply heat milk on the stove (but don’t let it boil—that could cause it to curdle), then whisk until it is as frothy as you can make it. Alternatively, you can heat the milk and use a handheld frother to make your latte’s foam nice and fluffy.

How to Make Latte Art (Sort Of)

Now it’s time to decorate your latte. You’ll need some small stencils to create the design—stencils are most commonly found at craft stores or can be ordered online. Choose a design that’s fun but doesn’t have too much detail. Next, you’ll need something to create the design from. You can use sprinkles, colored sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon or any kind of fine edible topping that would taste nice on a latte.

spreading whipped cream with spatula on top of latte

If you don’t have the ability to froth your milk, you’ll first want to add a layer of Cool Whip™ or stiff whipped cream on top of your mug of coffee. This will create a sturdy base for your design to sit on. Smooth the surface flat with a rubber spatula, the back of a spoon or the wrong edge of a butter knife to create an even canvas for your coffee art.

using a stencil and sprinkles to make design on latte

Next, place your stencil over the mug of coffee. Carefully add the decoration of your choosing, and when the shape in the stencil is completely covered, carefully lift the stencil away. You can smooth out any areas of the whipped topping that were disturbed with the back of a spoon if you need to.

bottle of red sprinkles and cup with moon design on top

Not only will your latte look super cute, but it’ll also be delicious with that extra layer of whipped cream and sprinkles on top. And hey! You didn’t have to train at your local java hut to learn how to make coffee art, either. Heart-shaped latte art is a nice way to wake up a special someone on Valentine’s day, while a number made of sprinkles is a treat for birthdays.

latte cup with heart made of cocoa

If you have a milk steamer in your home, you’ll have more luck using decorations that are lighter and won’t weigh down the foam—try a light dusting of cocoa powder or cinnamon, depending on your taste. Get creative with your newfound creative talent!