A well-crafted espresso, finished with beautiful latte art certainly enhances the overall coffee experience, however before getting creative, you must learn the basics of milk pouring. Zando offers barista training right here in Tasmania for cafe customers to learn the basics and more.

Pouring milk into espresso takes a lot of practice and is one of the hardest parts of the coffee-making process to learn. It all starts with a good espresso canvas and perfectly textured milk. If your crema is thin, if you milk is frothy and bubbly or not textured enough, it will be difficult to pour. Once you have mastered milk texturing you are ready to move onto pouring.

This tutorial provides a step by step guide on how to pour correctly:

Before you start:

– It’s important to start with fresh cold milk, the colder the better; keep the milk in the fridge until required.
– Use the right amount of milk for the jug size and coffees’ on order.
– Use a jug with a narrow spout.
– Use clean, cold jugs ever time.
– Use a quality milk thermometer until you can assess temperature by touch.
– Stretch milk to a maximum of 35-40 °C and a maximum temperature of 65-70°C, otherwise the milk texture will be to aerated and difficult to pour.
– Ensure you have a good canvas to work with by extracting the espresso correctly.
– Swirl the crema to prepare the surface for pouring.


The first step is learning how to control the speed at which you pour the milk. When pouring it should resemble a steady stream. If you are an absolute novice it is a good idea to practice pouring with water instead of milk. Start by pouring the water slowly into a cup, then speed up and slow down again. Continue doing this until you develop control over the speed at which you pour.

When you are feeling confident, tilt your cup and start pouring with the jug close the rim, then raise the jug 5cm above the liquid, continue to pour for a few seconds and bring the jug back down again. Repeat this action, pouring low to high until it feels comfortable and natural.


When you’re ready, practice again using milk. It may help to visualise the milk foam as a white ball and imagine dropping this white ball into the espresso from a height. The ball will submerge into the liquid and then come back to the surface stained the same colour as the espresso. Now take the white ball and drop it into the milk close to the surface of the espresso. This time the white ball will not submerge, instead it will sit on the surface and remain white. This is what happens when pouring milk into espresso.

milk pouring techniquesbarista training tamsania


The finished coffee should have a crisp white design in the centre of the cup, surrounded by a defined ring of crema.

Crema is flavour but unfortunately far too often, Baristas wash out the crema, leaving the coffee tasting milky and weak because they have not learned to pour correctly.

To avoid this and to create the contrast, tilt your cup on a 45° angle, making sure the cup and spout of the jug are in line with each other. This is especially important when creating latte art, otherwise the design will be off centre. Starting at a height of approximately 5cm above the rim of the cup, pour the milk into the deepest part of the espresso.

Move the jug in a gentle circular motion, mapping out the crema and creating a canvas. If white areas start to form, raise the jug a little more and continue pouring over these areas to integrate them into the crema. Take your time when pouring and aim for a steady stream of milk.

When the coffee reaches the ¾ mark, lower the jug so it touches the rim of the cup and continue to pour, a little faster this time, straightening the cup towards the end to avoid spillage.

Focus on the angle, height and speed of the pour and avoid moving the jug side to side. The aim here is to preserve the crema, keeping it in tack around the rim of the cup.


Once you have practised and can pour a flat white, latte and cappuccino, it is time to move onto pouring multiple cups from the same jug. This is harder than it sounds because you first have to create enough foam for the two drinks and then distribute the foam between the two cups so that the coffees have the right amount of foam on top. Regardless of what coffees you are pouring, always swirl the textured milk around the jug for a few seconds before pouring to help combine the textured milk, as the top layer will be much thicker than the steamed milk below.

The rule of thumb is to pour the coffee that requires the most foam first, leaving a slightly thinner milk texture for the second cup, for example, if you are making a cappuccino and latte combination, pour the cappuccino first followed by the latte.

But what if you are pouring two identical coffees? Remember the goal is to evenly distribute the foam between the cups so that they have the same amount of foam. The most efficient way to do this is by using a two jug system to split the milk and share the foam. Alternatively, you can split the pours from a single jug, however, this method is less efficient and the results are generally not as consistent as the split jug system.

With either technique, if you have created too much texture, simply pour off a small amount before you start as this will remove the heavy foam layer and prevent the espresso being washed out.


If you are not yet confident using a split jug system, follow the procedure below to evenly distribute the foam between two identical drinks:

– Texture your milk.
– Swirl the milk.
– Pour milk into the first cup filling 2/3- 3/4 mark.
– Swirl the milk.
– Pour the second cup to the top.
– Swirl the milk.
– Pour the remaining milk into the first cup.

barista training milk pouring


There are a few different ways to pour using a split jug system, however, this is the easiest technique to start with. With this system, the second jug must be warm so the milk temperature isn’t compromised. You can do this by leaving a clean jug on top of the machine, adding hot water in the jug for ten seconds, or giving the jug a blast of steam before use. Also, it is recommended that you use a small 380-400ml jug for splitting.

– Texture your milk in the larger jug.
– Swirl the milk.
– Pour the textured milk into a pre-heated split jug.
– Immediately pour 50% back into the original jug working quickly.
– Both milk jugs now have the same consistency and volumes as each other.
– Pour the first coffee from the larger jug.
– Pour the milk from the split jug back into the original jug.
– Swirl the milk.
– Pour the second coffee.

A correct split will result in identical cups.

This, like all parts of the coffee-making process, takes time and patience to master but is a far better way of managing workflow and quality in any café environment.

Give the team at Zando Coffee a call on 1300 926 362 to learn more about what we can do for you and your cafe including barista training, supplies and more!