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The Art of the Perfect Latte – Making the Best Latte at Ocala’s Local Coffee House

While a good old-fashioned cup of brewed coffee is a classic staple of any coffee shop, the explosion in popularity of lattes and other specialty drinks has led to the rise of another form of bean-based deliciousness—espresso. Now, a local coffee house must prove it can craft a delectable shot of espresso to be considered worth its while.

Chelsea Coffee stakes its reputation on slinging the highest quality ‘spro in town. Don’t be mistaken; pulling the perfect shot and creating the latte of your dreams is easier said than done. Many baristas will tell you it’s an art, and they’re spot on. Of course, there’s a bit of science to it as well!

Freshly pulled espresso streams into a glass espresso shot glass resting on a metal surface with coffee beans scattered around it.

If your curiosity is piqued each time a tantalizing latte tickles your taste buds, you’re in the right place. We’re going to share with you what separates a transcendent latte from your run-of-the-mill espresso drinks and how Chelsea has perfected the art of delivering exactly that.

How Chelsea Coffee Makes the Best Latte

Before we dive into the details of what makes the ideal latte, let’s take a moment to define what a latte actually is. A relatively simple concoction, a latte mixes espresso and steamed milk. Don’t let the short ingredient list fool you, though. This beverage is anything but basic!

To create coffee nirvana, one must master both the steamed milk and espresso components of the latte. It’s easier said than done, but with some practice and our expertise, the process will seem like second nature.

Choosing the Right Milk for a Latte

A latte may be labeled an espresso drink, but the milk is just as important as the go juice itself. The steamed milk brings a creamy, foamy element to the drink that elevates it above your typical coffee. Perfecting this portion of the process is essential to creating a latte that truly stands out.

A Chelsea Coffee barista uses a steam wand to steam the milk for a delicious latte.

One of the great things about lattes is that they can be made with a variety of milks and dairy alternatives. If someone wants a non-dairy milk to be used in their latte, that’s entirely possible. At Chelsea, we offer a variety of milks for this exact reason!

Keep in mind that the more fat the milk contains, the more luxurious the foam will be. That’s why high-quality whole milk is the most common choice. It lends itself well to a thick froth that gives your latte that special something.

How to Steam Milk for a Latte

The best way to steam milk is with an espresso machine that is equipped with a steam wand. This tool allows the barista to direct the steam precisely and heat the milk to the desired temperature. The other tools you will need are a thermometer (or impressive sense of touch) and a small metal pitcher. With these three items, you’re ready to steam milk.

You’ll want to fill the pitcher less than half full of the milk of your choice—remember, the higher the fat content, the better the foam. Next, insert the steam wand. There’s a bit of nuance and skill to this, and the technique takes time to perfect. You’ll want to dip the wand into and out of the milk as the temperature increases.

At Chelsea, you’re sure to hear the sound of the steam wand as the milk begins to foam. The pitcher should reach around 140 degrees before the milk is ready. Too hot, and it will burn. Too cold, and it won’t give you the luxurious foam everyone loves in a latte.

Once the milk is steamed, you’ll turn off and remove the wand, give the pitcher a quick tap to control the bubbles, and pour it into the waiting espresso. It’s important to pour the steamed milk immediately. If you wait too long, the foam and milk separate, making the ratios for the latte not quite right.

Choosing and Grinding Espresso Beans

A latte can only be as good as the beans used to brew it. At Chelsea Coffee, we use only the best beans from our local coffee roaster, Sweetwater Organic Coffee Co. High-quality beans make high-quality espresso, and we never settle for less than the best.

Next, the grind has to be right. Coffee bean grind refers to the coarseness of the beans. You can think of it as how big or small the pieces of beans will be after they have been ground. Are they chunky, like little rocks, or fine, like sand or flour?

A Chelsea barista grinds coffee beans to make the perfect shot of espresso.

For espresso, a fine grind is required. We grind our own beans at Chelsea, ensuring that we’re using a consistent level of coarseness every time we pull an espresso shot.

Mastering Dose and Tamp

Once our Sweetwater Coffee beans are picked and ground to the correct coarseness, it’s time to put the right among of ground into the portafilter. A portafilter is a device that holds the coffee grounds and attaches to the espresso maker during the process of pulling a shot. Typically, the portafilter should hold between 14 and 18 grams of ground coffee.

With the right dose housed in the portafilter, the grounds must be tamped. This is the process of pressing the grounds into the portafilter to create a uniform density for the water to filter through. Using a special tamping device, around 30 pounds of pressure is applied to the ground in the portafilter.

Perfecting the Pour

This step refers to how long the water should filter through the portafilter to extract the perfect shot of espresso. Think of it as the brew time for the coffee portion of your latte!

For a 1oz shot, the pour tends to take between 20 and 30 seconds. Sometimes, a shot will run long or short. This is an indication that your grind and tamp may need to be adjusted.

Preparing Your Espresso Shot and Crafting Your Latte

With the basics in mind, it’s time to put all the pieces together. Even with the knowledge of how to make a latte, practice and nuance are necessary to achieve the tastiest espresso beverage on a consistent basis.

For example, it’s essential to heat both the portafilter and the shot glasses to the same temperature by running the empty portafilter first. You will also want to insert the portafilter only when you’re ready to pour the shot. Because the espresso machine is hot, positioning the portafilter before you’re ready to pull can burn the grounds and change the flavor profile of the espresso.

Barista pouring steamed milk into a shot of espresso to create beautiful latte art in a quaint yellow coffee mug.

When the shot is ready, use it immediately. Timing is everything, and allowing the espresso to sit can make it taste bitter. That’s why the timing between making the shot and steaming the milk is so vital. If the timing is right, both should be ready at the same time. You can then pour the espresso and immediately follow it with the milk.

Taste Latte Perfection at Chelsea Coffee

The latte is a beloved coffee beverage. When executed correctly, it is delicious, balanced, and the basis for many of the drinks we all know and love. At your favorite local coffee shop in Ocala, we’ve perfected every aspect of the ideal latte. It’s fair to say our baristas love what they do and know their way around an espresso machine!

If you want to sample some succulent ‘spro for yourself, feel free to stop by. We’ll serve you the best latte ever to grace your taste buds, and we’re confident you’ll come back for more!

In the meantime, feel free to visit our blog. We share coffee insights, how-to guides, and more on a regular basis. If you love coffee and small businesses, you’ll have a blast checking it out!

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