It's hard to pin down when exactly latte art was invented, or who invented it. Coffee geek lore has it that Espresso Vivace's David Schomer was the first American to really nail it back in the mid-eighties. In Italy, meanwhile, a gentleman named Luigi Lupi was doing the same thing around the same time.
One thing's for sure, though: Developing perfect latte art is a bit like beginning an exercise regimen. Things may start out a little awkward and puffy, but you're guaranteed steady (if modest) progress if you hang in there. Though there is disagreement within the coffee world about what milk's proper texture ought to be, we (along with pretty much all the other specialty coffee companies) prefer to craft a silky "microfoam" – something akin to wet paint or "white chrome," as Schomer himself put it all those years ago.