Can Microcimbali make microfoam for latte art?

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ramassen

#1: Post by ramassen »

I restored my Microcimbali machine and it pulls delicious shots with wonderful golden crema. But a microfoam with enough air to float has been eluding me. My steamed milk and cappuccino foams are good enough but no thick microfoam that floats.

I am figuring it is my lack of technique but after a couple gallons of milk and many try's with water and detergent I am wondering this machine what it takes to get a microfoam with enough air in it.

The tip has three holes in it and if I get the milk too low to try and pull in more air one of them seems to point almost straight across or up the milk not down. And of course this makes big bubbles (that also stops the vortex & integration). I have thought about trying to replace the tip somehow with a tip that has one hole that can point more downward to get the vortex roll all the videos talk about.

The instructions for this machine are to turn on off the 1000 watt switch when the steam starts whistling out to top (if you don't it blows too much steam out the valve on the top and makes a mess) There is no gauge to see how many bars pressure there is. The videos online say crank up the steam and I do not think I can get more out of it.

Next step is hire a local barista to give it a try on my machine and train me.

I am open to any and all ideas, Roy

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drgary
Team HB

#2: Post by drgary »

I restored a Microcimbali, and it was a powerful steamer with its stock tip. I wonder if the flaw is in your technique. What threads on H-B have you read with instructions on foaming and making latte art? Are you able to foam milk successfully on other gear?
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

ramassen (original poster)

#3: Post by ramassen (original poster) »

Gary

I appreciate your response. It confirms that it would be my lack of skills in this domain yet. I have not tried using any other equipment yet but do have an old stove top steamer packed away I will look for. It had a single hole & put out a powerful steam. Just might give me a reference point.

I have read many threads here on Home-Barista and been watching YouTube videos for days. The video by Chris Baca made the most sense to me and was very entertaining. And for the science of it, the Sunergos vid. made sense, I enjoyed Lance Hendrick's posts and others that all point to getting a good stretch and then incorporating the air in the whirlpool or vortex. Right now I think my main problem is getting foam or steamed milk and not a good stretch. But looks like I just haven't found that sweet spot and angle yet to get there.

Even tried the detergent in water trick but same results with that.

Knowing it is possible is what I needed hear to keep going in my quest,

Truly appreciate it, Roy

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drgary
Team HB

#4: Post by drgary »

I've been a slow learner with latte art and have finally got the hang of it. With a home machine that has a three hole tip, what I've found to work best is immersing the tip part way so it's mixing in air until the foam expands and then move it deep into the milk until you get it sufficiently hot but don't burn it. I tap and swirl to eliminate large bubbles and have workable microfoam. These days I don't have as many larger bubbles. I've found that tilting the cup and pushing to first bit out toward the back gets a good stream going that I can draw toward me.

Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

ramassen (original poster)

#5: Post by ramassen (original poster) »

That looks Great!

I found a good video today that says the same things a bit differently http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCCcZ619-TM

I have gotten a much creamier steamed milk as I progress that tastes good and velvety so just have to keep refining my technique to get enough air without the separation of larger bubbles floating on top to create distinct enough to make art. Guess why it's called microfoam ;-)

This reminds me of learning to use an old manual chain stitch embroidery machine back in my youth (the 60's) to embroider things like bowling shirts. Took hours of practice until the muscle memory could remember how to coordinate your foot on the clutch and hand on a handle under the table to freehand direct the fabric as the machine sewed. One of my first business.

Will try your tips in the morning, Roy

ramassen (original poster)

#6: Post by ramassen (original poster) »

Figured it out today! I just kept thinking this all did not make sense, and remembered the old saying doing the same thing over and over expecting different results doesn't make sense. I was just not getting enough steam power to generate the vortex all the videos talk about.

I had not removed the steam wand in my restoration since steam came out. But decided to give that a shot. Removed it, and used a fine wire to make sure the holes were totally open. Got it back together and gave it a try. After pulling my shots I got instant success. Guess all those attempts and practice with low steam were not wasted. A mug filled with shiny wet paint micro foam that poured beautifully. Without thestiff big bubble foam on top. I also turn the 1000 watt switch back on after pulling my shots. With the steam valve open it doesn't over heat and sputter out the top.

Now I can practice turning that lovely microfoam into art!

Thanks for the help and encouragement, Roy