Latte Art - too many sea-foam-like bubbles on top of the steamed milk [video]

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.

#1: Post by Vodanh1994 »

Hello everyone

I am a Coffee Enthusiast in Vietnam. Currently, I am trying to learn the latte art with my Saeco Intelia Espresso Machine. I encounter a common issue when steaming milk which is the excessive amount of sea-foam-like bubbles on top of the milk. This problem has been frustrating me for days because I have watched and read countless of videos and articles regarding this topic and nothing works. Therefore, I guess there is something fundamentally wrong with either my technique or my machine (although I think that my technique is pretty okay). I would deeply appreciate if you guys can point out what I did wrong.

Here is the video in which I practice latte art with water and dish soap and I still get the EXACT problem as I do with 1% fat milk. I filled half of the pitcher (250ml) with water and dish soap. Then, before turning it on, I first tilted the pitcher and kept the tip of the steam wand barely touch the surface to let the air in for 4-5 seconds. After hearing the hissing noise for 4-5 seconds, I immediately submerged the wand to create a whirlpool-like motion inside the body of the water. I stopped when the pitcher is too hot too touch. The problem is even after fully submerging the wand into the water, it still created a lot of visible bubbles which do not disappear despite the fact that the water is still rapidly moving around. I don't think I over-aerated it because I only left the wand touching the surface of the water for 4-5 seconds, and those bubbles were keep created even after I fully submerged the wand. It really frustrates me because as I watched a ton of videos, they all do have bubbles initially, but those bubbles will disappear as soon as the water is moving around. Here is my youtube link in which I tried to steam the milk:
Please help me to figure out the problem. Did I do something fundamentally wrong or it's all about the machine? In this video I only used water and dish soap because I have wasted too much milk for practicing. But I got the exact problem with milk. I knew that the texture is very bad because when I tried to create a heart-shape figure on my espresso shot, the texture of the milk felt so soft that the milk immediately spread out and created a ball-like object. Here is the picture (I did mess around a little bit with a toothpick lol):

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#2: Post by Nunas »

While not impossible, IMO it will be very difficult to get truly good microfoam of a texture good enough for latte art using that machine. From the chug-chug-chug, I can tell that it is a thermoblock machine. I had a bunch of Breville machines like that and it can be done, but not without a lot of frustration. With a few exceptions, they simply don't make really good foam. Secondly, it appears that your machine uses a pannarello wand (froth enhancer) rather than a regular steam tip. With these, the techniquie is quite different from most that you'll find referenced on these pages. Try this technique

There are a couple of tricks you might try. One is, once your milk is frothed, stir the heck out of it with a desert spoon. This will bring the big bubbles to the top where they will combine and burst. It will also integrate some of the heated milk on the bottom into the froth. My personal best choice when I've messed up the foaming is to get a second, heated jug, and pour the textured milk back and forth between the two a couple of times.

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#3: Post by cannonfodder »

That is about as good as you are going to do with a 'froth aid' wand. You could pull the plastic extension off and under all of it you will have a single hole steam tip. If it is long enough you can just use the bare steam tip which will do a better job. No real fix other than a new machine with a proper boiler and steam wand.
Dave Stephens