The Evolution of a Rosetta

A stunning rosetta from Le Pan Quotidien in Leichhardt, one of my favorite neighborhood cafes.

This post is a continuation of my previous one, “The Perfect Cup,” on what it takes to make a great cup of coffee.

One of the things that surprised me the most when I first started learning about espresso-based drinks, was that I really didn’t have the faintest idea what went into making them!  Sure I’d had plenty of cappuccinos, lattes & mochas previously, but could I have described the components to you?  Probably not.  How much foam goes into a cap vs. a latte? (Although I already knew a cap has more, I wouldn’t have been able to judge how much to include in each drink.)  Which coffees are traditionally served in a porcelain cup & which are served in a glass?  Who knew?!  And what exactly was a flat white?  Affogato?  Babychino?!  I’d never even heard of these before!

In fact, when I visited Heather in Sydney a year ago, I mistakenly ordered a “macchiato,” assuming that it would be something like the caramel macchiato I’d often gotten from Starbucks (but perhaps without the caramel).  Well, guess again!  A true macchiato is quite different.  In Italian, the word means “marked” or “stained” & in the case of a macchiato coffee it refers to the fact that a shot of espresso is marked with a dash of steamed milk & about 2 teaspoons of foam.  A bit disappointing if you’re expecting a regular size drink. 0:-)

So as you can imagine, I was excited to finally learn what goes into making some of the most common coffees, both as a consumer & (at the time) soon-to-be barista. 🙂  If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what’s in your cup, allow me to clear up some of the mystery!

The most common drinks on a coffee menu (descriptions from bean there, drunk that… by David Gee & Matthew Gee):

Espresso (Short Black) – A shot of espresso (30 mL = 1 fl oz) served in a demitasse cup or glass.

Macchiato – A shot of espresso served in a small cup or glass with a dash of steamed milk & 2 teaspoons of froth.

Cappuccino – A shot of espresso served in a porcelain cup with steamed milk & froth that extends down about 10 mm (about the length of your fingernail) & up over the rim to create a ‘dome.’  Topped with chocolate drinking powder.

Latte – A shot of espresso served in a glass with steamed milk & froth that extends down about 10 mm.

Piccolo Latte – A small espresso glass filled with a shot of espresso, steamed milk & about 5 mm of froth.

Flat White (a purely Australian invention! :)) – This is a great drink for those who prefer minimal froth in their coffees.  A shot of espresso served in a porcelain cup with steamed milk & only about 2 mm of froth, just to add some texture.

Mocha – About 1 tablespoon of chocolate drinking powder dissolved in a shot of espresso with steamed milk (Dear Tim Hortons, a mocha is NOT half a cup of filtered coffee combined with half a cup of hot chocolate. Ugh. :().  Depending on the cafe, a mocha can be served in either a porcelain cup (in which case, do the foam as you would for a cappuccino) or a glass (in which case, do the foam as you would for a latte).  Topped with chocolate drinking powder.

Long Black (Americano) – Half fill a porcelain cup with hot water & then pour in two shots of espresso.

Babychino – Yes, this really is for kids!  No actual coffee in this drink, of course – just a demitasse cup filled with froth, with chocolate drinking powder sprinkled on top.

Affogato – A scoop of ice cream with one or two shots of espresso poured over the top & served in a porcelain cup.  Ghermez does not have this on their menu as we do not serve ice cream, but I will have to try it at another cafe sometime soon!  We also do not serve iced coffees as Australian iced coffees are made with ice cream.  Crazy!

After learning to make each of the coffees properly, my next goal was to be able to create beautiful latte art – specifically, I wanted to learn how to “free pour” a rosetta (leaf).  Little did I know how many silly designs I would accidentally create in the process!  Many times I would produce only a tiny dot, squiggle or blob & sometimes nothing at all would emerge as the white milk blended with the brown crema of the coffee.  But over the months as I gained a bit more control, little by little strange shapes started to materialize on top of my coffees . . . Below is one of my first attempts at a rosetta (yes, that was *supposed* to be a rosetta – this is where you refer back to the real rosetta produced by a professional barista at the top of this post & laugh at how ridiculous the upcoming photos are going to appear in comparison!)

A Chinese character or perhaps a pagoda? Rorschach ink blot maybe? What do YOU see?!

The funniest thing about these “mistakes” is that I couldn’t produce them again if I tried!

Another wannabe rosetta . . . except it was destined to be a snake!

I have to give a shout out to my colleague Nerida, or as I like to call her, “my Creative Director,” as she provided the inspiration for several of my designs, including this one.  She took one look at the squiggles I created in this coffee & remarked, “look, it’s a snake!”  All I had to do was dip a thermometer in the brown crema of the coffee & add the dot you see in the snake’s head in order to make an eye. 😉

It turns out that this coffee was a lucky one, because it won me the latte art contest we had during the month of August at work (along with a $20 gift card to itunes – yeah!).  It certainly wasn’t that I produced the best designs – there are far more experienced baristas at Ghermez that can produce perfect rosettas every time – it was really more of a “most improved” award.  I had to learn to steam the milk correctly before it was possible to create any latte art at all & after that it still takes heaps of practice to free pour something that looks like . . . well, anything!

I was also trying to learn how to free pour love hearts around this same time (which are *supposed* to be easier than rosettas, except that I’m still struggling with them!).  Once, just once, I got the *perfect* love heart – a big one, perfectly symmetrical, it was beautiful! – but only Nerida was there to see it.  I didn’t get a picture of that one so I have no proof. 😦  But I did produce another heart-like design that I was quite proud of – even if it was a bit unconventional!

Nerida dubbed this one "Ghost Heart" - it's hard to explain, but if there was such a thing this would be it, don't you think?!

Before I produced my first rosetta (yes, I really did make one – once, LOL! – wait for it, it’s coming!), I went through another stage where I stopped producing Chinese characters & snakes (hahaha!) & started producing fat blob-like leaves that told me I just might be heading in the right direction.

Looking more & more like a rosetta - I think we're on the right track!

And finally, after heaps more practice . . .

My very first rosetta! So pretty!!

I was SO proud!  The next steps would be to 1) be able to produce a rosetta consistently (I’ve gone back to working on those pesky love hearts now & the few times I’ve tried to do a rosetta after this one I haven’t even come close – aargh! :() & 2) produce a larger rosetta that fills the cup, like the one at the top of this post from Le Pan Quotidien.

Maybe someday soon I’ll get there, but I only have less than two months to practice since I plan to leave Ghermez in late November/early December to travel through Queensland . . . Great Barrier Reef, here I come! 😀

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Aunt Penny
    Oct 15, 2011 @ 01:46:56

    Hi Niki,
    Thanks for the lesson on coffees… I’ve always wondered what the differences were between the various drinks. You are too funny describing your experiences in learning to make them. Much love from me and Uncle Norm…


  2. Heather
    Oct 15, 2011 @ 06:12:45

    I still haven’t tried an affogato but a new place in town makes them 🙂

    Can’t wait for you to come back and make a coffee for me 😉 That means you either have to invest in an at home espresso machine (quite exy!!) or get a part time job as a barista (which you may be ready to leave behind).

    So proud of you!


    • nicoleinoz
      Oct 15, 2011 @ 20:38:24

      Part of me really wants to invest in an espresso machine, but I know it wouldn’t get enough use to make it worth the cost. 😦 Well, maybe someday! 🙂


  3. Camille
    Oct 15, 2011 @ 10:04:50

    Love you sharing all the trials and tribulations of your attempt at latte art! You certainly are entertaining. You must love doing the creative designs for coffees like the creative designs you have done at home with your cake decorating.

    I know what a perfectionist you tend to be….so I am sure the most improved award was well deserved. GOOD FOR YOU! Can’t wait to watch you create those “masterpieces” at home and enjoy them with you. LOVE MOM xo


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