Billions of people around the world enjoy Barista-crafted luxury Cappuccinos, Caffe Lattes and Macchiatos on a daily basis. But what makes them taste so great? Simple, a perfect combination of expertly extracted espresso hot steamed milk and velvety-smooth milk foam. Milk that is correctly prepared is always foamed. Whether or not you require any foam in the drink you’re preparing, a certain level of foam in the milk is required when steaming. Milk is steamed and steamed to enhance the sensory experience of coffee. Incorporating air into the milk improves and sweetens the taste. Milk that has not been foamed tastes and appears lifeless in comparison. Follow the steps below to ensure your milk is foamed to perfection every time using a traditional espresso machine.
Fill your milk jug/steaming pitcher with cold milk (minimum amount of milk should be 1/3 of the jug, never fill the jug more than half full as milk expands to double its original size during steaming. Any type of milk can be used for steaming, whole milk, semi-skimmed or skimmed, as long as it is fresh it will foam. NEVER REHEAT MILK.
Tip: Try to get in the habit of pouring only enough milk for the drinks you’re preparing to avoid unnecessary wastage.
Always ensure the steam wand is purged prior to steaming and frothing milk, as there may often be a build up of water in the wand; this can adversely affect the final results of your microfoam.
Position the steam wand tip just beneath the surface of the milk and turn the steam flow on fully; you should hear ‘tsst’ noises, indicating you are foaming the milk correctly. If the tip of the steam wand is too far beneath the surface it will not allow any air into the milk. Too far above the surface and too much air will be introduced causing large bubbles to appear on the surface.
Once you are happy with the temperature and amount of foam, submerge the steam wand tip further into the steaming pitcher. Begin to texture the milk by tilting the jug on an angle and positioning the steam wand close towards the side of the jug. The milk will begin to swirl in the pitcher (also referred to as whirl-pooling), which improves consistency. Steam the milk it reaches the optimum serving temperature of 70°C.
Once milk steaming is complete remove the wand from the jug. Wipe the steam wand using a damp cloth, this is imperative and should be completed after each use to avoid bacteria developing on the wand. Once you have wiped the steam wand, purge it by turning the steam flow on for a few seconds; this removes any milk residue that may be in the tip of the wand.
Tap the base of the jug on a suitable work surface several times to release any large air bubbles and then swirl the milk in the jug to keep the creamy textured consistency. The milk should have a visible sheen to its appearance, contain no large bubbles and have the consistency of liquid foam.