Millions of people in the UK enjoy luxury Cappuccinos, Caffe Lattes and Macchiatos daily but what makes them taste so great? Simple…perfectly extracted espresso, hot steamed milk and velvety-smooth milk foam. Correctly prepared milk is always foamed. Even if you don’t want any foam in the drink you’re preparing, you still require a certain level of foam in the milk when steaming. Milk is foamed and steamed to enhance the sensory experience of coffee, in particular, espresso. Incorporating air into the milk improves and sweetens the taste. Milk that has not been foamed tastes flat and dull in comparison. Follow the steps below to ensure your milk is foamed to perfection every time using your 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 will overflow during steaming. What type of milk froths best? Any, as long as it is fresh! NEVER REHEAT MILK.
Tip: Try to get in the habit of pouring only enough milk for the drinks you are preparing to avoid unnecessary wastage.
Purge the steam wand prior to steaming and frothing milk, as there may often be a build up of water in the wand; this can affect the results of your milk.
Position the steam wand tip just beneath the surface of the milk and turn the steam fully on, if you are doing this correctly you will hear ‘tsst’ noises. Steam the milk in this way until reaches 65 – 70°C. If the tip of the steam wand is too far beneath the surface it will not allow any air into the milk. If the steam wand is too far above the surface of the milk, too much air will be introduced and large air bubbles will appear on the surface.
Once the milk has reached the correct temperature and you are happy with the amount of milk froth, submerge the steam tip further into the jug. Then begin to texture the milk by tilting the jug on an angle and positioning the steam wand towards the side of the jug. The milk will begin to swirl (also referred to as whirlpooling), this improves milk consistency. Steam the milk this way until it reaches your desired serving temperature.
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 be the consistency of liquid foam.
Nothing quite compares to the texture and rich mouth feel of properly steamed and foamed milk. This decadent sweet liquid foam will mix beautifully with your espresso to make luscious lattes and creamy cappuccinos your customers will love.
rijo42 Barista ‘Big Dave’ is competing in the UK Barista Championships 2013, read more here.