How to fix my milk steaming?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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#1: Post by parsa_taheri »


I inject air, get it spinning in a circle like a vortex and nothing I keep getting a top layer of foam. I could get silky milk with my old, much weaker steamer with the same technique. What am I doing wrong?

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#2: Post by macal425 »

It looks as if you are doing close to the opposite of what I do. I'm not an expert in steaming, but have improved a lot recently. I start at the same angle as you with the tip just below the surface. I create a swirl and start getting an increase in the milk volume (foam). However, where you put the tip in lower, I am bringing it up higher to remain just under the surface, until I get the desired increase in volume. Once I get the volume I want and the pitcher is 'warm' to the touch, I then drop the tip down and create a vortex to incorporate the foam into the milk. I do this until the pitcher gets too hot to touch. I usually nail it now around 3 out of every 4 attempts and get a silky smooth milk with the texture of paint.

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#3: Post by mrgnomer »

Try moving your pitcher so your steam arm is on the other side and you get a clockwise rotation. Angle down to a bottom corner, don't go too close to the wall and when the milk starts stretching angle the pitcher slightly or very slightly raise the pitcher to very slightly immerse the steam tip a little more to get a folding vortex. Stop when it gets hot to the touch, give it a tap or two to pop any bubbles, spin the foam to incorporate it more if you have to and it should be good for latte art.

I am no latte art expert but a year with a LaPavoni Europiccola forced me to be subtle with the steam arm adjustments and to go by sound and feel as much as sight. I was getting soap bubbles at first but slowly kept getting better froth until it was consistently good froth. What I learned from that unforgiving machine works with the other machines I've got. The trick is to find your pitcher's sweet spot: the spot that spins the milk with a quiet rip and then very subtly raise for more volume, hold to maintain volume and delicately angle or shift the steam tip to get a folding vortex to finish if you don't already have one. The folding vortex mixes in micro foam really well from what I've read.
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