Hey all,

I'm wondering what people are using as a tool to etch designs in latte art.  Typically, we just use our thermometers, but we've started to notice that doing so is throwing them out of calibration.

Anyone using anything besides a thermometer?

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i suggest learning to pour
This guy actually pours really well.

The other baristas, mainly myself, occasionally take the time to etch crazy in the lattes.

Latte Demons for metal kids, Great Dane faces for humane society workers, zebra print faux for sorostitutes. It may not be the most pretentious practice in the industry, I understand. Standards, standards are important.

I do enjoy a good free pour as much as the next espresso fanatic--however--our customers really enjoy a creative etch with drizzle contrast worked in. It's not something we're ever going to turn our noses up at, mainly bc It has the best espresso in town and surrounding cities in it and we're insanely proud of that as well as being the only shop that roasts in house.

That being said and your suggestion taken, yes, it actually was considered...

does anyone have an actual product suggestion?
or, and i'm not being sarcastic, learn how to feel temperatures with your hands. then you have all sorts of pokey sticks that don't need to be calibrated.
Toothpicks broken at different sections depending on desired thickness, pins/needles, Ricky's suggestions are tops, though. Oh... dissecting needles (preferably unused, lol).

thermometer tips
Branden said:
thermometer tips

??? did you read the original question?

i agree w/Jen... the pitch of the milk steaming is a great way to tell its temp. have a training session where everyone learns to recognize how the 'screaching' lines up with the touch and actual temp. this also helps with multitasking. so...keep using thermometers! and keep personalizing drinks the customers love it way more then being pretentious which is a natural job hazard.
I always smile when people start fighting over thermometers!

Pouring and etching do two different things, so learning to pour is only part of it. My focus has always been all about taste so I don't much make an issue out of latte art, but, I will always do something like write the name of the drink in letters, do a treble clef for musicians or basic hearts and the like. When I etch, I use a small #0 Philips screw driver because the tip holds milk well.

As for temperature: My skin is a bit odd. Sunshine hurts me so you can imagine how I feel holding a milk pitcher. Sound? Are you kidding? I've got two Bledtec blenders running behind me the whole night.

Trust me, I still use thermometers.
knitting needles... all sorts of guages. Metalic ones are food safe also.
Daniel, behave yourself.

Daniel Williamson said:
i suggest learning to pour
I gotta say, the number of recommendations for using thermometer tips is just funny. Read the question, people.

And for the record, 90% of the time, I free pour. And 100% of the time, I stop steaming when my hands and ears tell me to—I never even use a thermometer in that capacity. But we DO use them to check water temperatures for steeping our various teas, so they need to be calibrated.
Not sure that I understand how using thermometer tips for etching could throw them out of calibration. Perhaps they are handled more and dropped more frequently?

Keep them on the bar, and keep them calibrated. I'd bet money that your health inspector will check their calibration if they are on the bar, despite any claims that they are "only used for etching". Also, even well-trained hands and ears should check themselves every once in a while... nobody's perfect, and customers DO care about the temperature of their drink. We've picked up plenty of customers that gave up on their old shops due to drinks that were too cold or burned... the baristas there consider themselves "well-trained".

Glad to see that you've gotten some good tips. I don't etch (or even freepour very well) so have nothing good to add...

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