I can't steam milk worth a damn - Page 2

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
RickVanCleef (original poster)

#11: Post by RickVanCleef (original poster) »

I tried again this morning. I can only conclude that the Cremina sucks at making microform. My technique was perfect.....just like in the videos. Right amount of milk, pitcher angled back, perfect vortex, perfect sound of air being introduced. I raised the pitcher slightly about 5 or 6 seconds in to stop the introduction of air, and stopped steaming when the pitcher got too hot to touch for more than a second. I swirled the ptcher around on the counter, tapping it a few times. Then I poured the milk into the espresso. It was just watery and sunk right to the bottom. Never mind micro foam, I couldn't even spoon any foam from the surface to make it at least look like a cappuccino. It was just a hot watery mess. I'd like to see a video of Chris Baca or Dritan Alsela making good milk on a Cremina.....I'll bet they can't.

RickVanCleef (original poster)

#12: Post by RickVanCleef (original poster) »

BaristaBoy E61 wrote:What percentage milk fat are you using?
I've tried both 2% and whole. Same results.

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#13: Post by SCespresso »

You've had plenty of great tips in this thread. I guarantee you your machine is capable of steaming quality milk.

Unless your machine is producing commercial steam, 5 seconds of introducing air is not going to be enough.

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#14: Post by GC7 »

Try some different brands of milk.

Around here where I live I love Stew Leonards Market for meat, fish and produce. They have fresh whole milk, organic and every % imaginable and none of them produce microfoam worth a damn. Same for Trader Joes and some others I've tried.

Maple Hill Organic is like magic. I hoard the stuff :D Horizon Organic works well too. See what's available around you,

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#15: Post by MNate »


This video was shared in the Decent Diaspora and to me it is the best, especially if you want very explicit instructions. It helped me improve, even after knowing and practicing the general idea for years.


#16: Post by chillinsd »

GC7 wrote: Maple Hill Organic is like magic. I hoard the stuff :D Horizon Organic works well too. See what's available around you,
i also find these 2 brands work the best for me 8)


#17: Post by coffeechan »

Part of the journey is figuring out your unique machine and how it will interact with the milk, jug, and your technique. By your feedback it seems that not enough air is being introduced at the start leading to flat thin milk, too much will create an obvious heavy foam top that separates quickly. Milk steaming techniques can be very different but reach the same result. Something to try would be to have 1 or 2 seconds where the wand is not touching the milk at all. This will inject much more air at the start to try to remedy your problem. Link to Dritan Alsela's YT vid as an example. It's pretty similar to Baca's ghost riding the wand, but he submerges the wand a bit, also linked on youtube also below. Different way to reach the same destination, let the machine inject a lot of air into the milk leading to expansion, milk level rises, then automatically folds and incorporates the air back into the milk.



It's likely that the Cremina is quite powerful, maybe too powerful for your current level. I would see if you can turn down the steam boiler pressure if that's an option. 2 Bar of steam pressure is commercial power, I have 1.2 on a heat exchanger and it steamed super fast, in about 15 seconds or so for 6-7 oz of milk. It was hard to get consistent latte art quality creamy microfoam. I have a much easier time with the Breville dual boiler which it takes probably double the time, which is not bad for me because it allows me more time to work with the milk.

Some tips are possibly to try an organic ultra-pasteurized whole milk, more for consistency/quality. I remember both Horizon and Stonyfield performed well.

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#18: Post by apoopoo999 »

Did you try just continuously introducing air until the pitcher is hot? If you can steam a whole pitcher of foam and make a cappuccino then the machine is fine. I have a 6 liter HX and a tiny boiler consumer machine and both are very different to work with. The 6 liter only needs 3 or 4 nice slurps of air to make micro foam but the tiny boiler machine needs much more air to make micro foam. You can't really copy exactly what's being shown in a video because your machine may need much more air.

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#19: Post by Bluenoser »

The gold standard is to coerce someone who can pour good latte art to come over to give it a go. It's like magic when they produce good foam and at first it looks like you were doing the exact same steps.


#20: Post by cgibsong002 »

Can almost guarantee that the issue is your technique and not the machine. Any cheap machine with a real wand can get excellent results. You say it's "watery" because it sinks to the bottom. Sounds like you're not sure how to pour either. With hot milk with practically no aeration you should be able to float it on top if you pour it right.

Why not post a video?