Apparently milk does play an important role in microfoam quality!

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.

Postby forbiddenbeat » Sep 20, 2018, 3:15 pm

I recently picked up a Londinium R as an upgrade to a Breville Dual Boiler, and around the same time I started buying grass-fed, non-homogenized milk. I was getting frustrated that my microfoam had a lot of little bubbles in it, and had been assuming this was due to the vastly increased steam power from the Londinium vs. the BDB. It was pourable, but bubbly and not proper microfoam.

Well, yesterday I decided to go back to regular (homogenized) 2% milk, and the results were perfect. No bubbles! Of course I blew the pour and drew a pretty wilted tulip, but at least I figured out the milk was the issue. Likely the grass-fed aspect doesn't matter, but homogenization does. At least, that'd be my assumption. So fat distribution might be important.

So, if you are having trouble getting microfoam despite your best efforts, try some different milk!

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Postby primacoffee » Sep 20, 2018, 3:38 pm

I've been able to get some raw milk through -aherm- sources locally, and have enjoyed playing with it a lot. One of the things that I've found when it comes to using it for coffee is that if the cream has settled out for even a short period of time, it becomes all the more difficult to incorporate into microfoam and winds up collapsing into larger bubbles. Two methods I've tried to fix this are home pasteurizing with a water bath (145 F for 60 minutes), and a handful of attempts at home homogenization with blenders and sieves. Homogenization proves not to be worth the effort so far because if you incorporate any air at all you will get a foam that refuses to go away. I did try the blow torch method once, but the flavor afterward was not good (perhaps a lighter touch with the ol' Bernzomatic would have resolved that). Low temp vat pasteurization seems to melt the fat globules and reincorporates them well enough that steaming performance comes right back. I like commercially homogenized milk better for foaming performance overall, but the early summer raw milk has a flavor that can't be beat.
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Postby emradguy » Sep 21, 2018, 1:05 am

Obviously pasteurization and homogenization are completely different processes, but I'd venture to say that there are probably zero commercial milk producers that bother with homogenization but NOT pasteurization, but the number who don't homogenize are getting more popular. The biggest benefit in terms of steaming milk to a consistency suitable for latte art will come from homogenization, and unfortunately, that's something you just cannot adequately achieve in the home. Blenders, even the most powerful ones, can't even begin to approximate the pressures used in modern homogenization. I say unfortunately, because I do agree that the flavor of the most fresh grass-fed/pastured milk is unbeatable.


Postby Marcelnl » Sep 21, 2018, 3:07 am

did you try skimming the fat off the milk, I can imagine that having loads of milk fat/cream on top will make foaming more difficult.

I too find that the milk has a big impact, best I found so far is one brand of organic whole milk which unlike plenty of it's competitors HAS flavor and it foams really nicely.

(just started foaming as my wheel milk foamer died, badly in need of a 1 or 2 hole tip)
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Postby espressotime » Sep 21, 2018, 3:38 am

I don t think the type of milk really matters.It comes down to technique.I never had troubles making perfect microfoam.


Postby forbiddenbeat » replying to espressotime » Sep 21, 2018, 3:01 pm

I think homogenized vs. not makes a big difference. Have you tried non-homogenized whole milk?

I'm pretty experienced at making solid microfoam, and with the grass-fed non-homogenized stuff I just can't get it right. It may very well be I need to use a different technique, but I'm not sure what it is.

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Postby [creative nickname] » Sep 21, 2018, 5:01 pm

I have had the same experience with non-homogenized milk.
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Postby spressomon » Sep 21, 2018, 9:45 pm

We get local grass fed non-homogenized whole milk in Reno and the flavor is super as well as 'luxe smooth microfoam (Sandhill Dairy). But Organic Valley 100% grass fed non-homogenized whole milk is a challenge to steam and get similar results.
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Postby Marcelnl » replying to spressomon » Sep 22, 2018, 10:49 am

is either pasteurized? I reckon that has a large effect on fat distribution and globule size too.
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Postby [creative nickname] » Sep 22, 2018, 11:31 am

The organic valley grassmilk is definitely pasteurized, and is one of the milks I have had issues with.
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