Can You Ask For Latte Art At A Starbucks?

No doubt, one of the more exciting aspects of ordering a latte at a boutique café is the talented art that comes on the surface, made with the milk's micro foam. That being said, not every café is equipped to offer this add-on. And if you're wondering whether or not it's reasonable to request latte art at Starbucks, the simplest answer would be to ask only when your location is moving a little more slowly, as latte art takes time and Starbucks usually has a constant hustle and bustle. 

However, you should also bear in mind a few more obstacles that the chain presents when it comes to latte art. First, Starbucks' milk pitchers are generally wider than regular ones, making it more challenging to create delicate designs, if not impossible. What's more, Starbucks' default milk is 2%, which is trickier to work with than whole milk. Whole milk is rich in proteins, meaning it froths and holds foam far better than other milks. Conversely, 2% creates a stiff foam that's difficult to pour with the sort of fine touch needed for latte art. 

As such, if you want to request latte art at Starbucks, do your barista a favor and order your drink with whole milk to give them a proper canvas to work with.

Starbucks baristas aren't formally trained in latte art

Another thing to consider when requesting latte art at Starbucks is that it's not a standard part of Starbucks training program, so any barista with this particular skill has learned to do so on their own time. Instead, Starbucks baristas generally rely on machines for frothing and pouring when customers order a drink with steamed milk, and the quick foam created by these machines isn't always the high quality for creating intricate designs.

Your best bet for latte art would be to ask a barista wearing a black Starbucks apron; the apron color means  they've already taken the time to attend Starbucks Coffee Academy to hone their coffee-making skills, and they're much more likely to have dabbled with latte art than their green-aproned coworkers. Of course, this doesn't mean green-aproned baristas haven't experimented with latte art on their own time, so you can never know for sure unless you ask. More often than not, they'll be happy to give latte art a try if they aren't too busy.

Some Starbucks baristas compete in latte art competitions

Although Starbucks doesn't train its baristas in the realm of latte art, some employees take it upon themselves to learn the craft and even enter annual competitions. One such competition is the Starbucks EMEA Baristas Championship, which hosted more than 15,000 Starbucks employees from around the world during its 2023 events.

In addition to competing for the best latte art designs, baristas participate in making signature drinks and even coffee tasting challenges. Ultimately, the winner of each year's championship takes home a special purple apron to signify their mastery of both coffee tech and making coffee without a machine.

But no matter how cool the purple Starbucks apron is, the most important aspect of the competition is how it brings everyone together for a common passion. Regardless of their race, age, or level of expertise, baristas from all walks of life can work alongside each other, learn new skills, and forge life-long friendships.