Major Bellman stovetop steamer breakthrough! - Page 3

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
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#21: Post by DaveB »

Let us know if the water trick works for you, In the meantime I'll work on refining the pseudo-steaming :D
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#22: Post by monkeygrinder »

I tried the water trick yesterday, maybe only 20 second run though. I still had a lot of bubbles after switching to the milk. :(

Today I thought I'd try again without the water bath trick, but with a fairly long purge like in this video. That really didn't work for me, I still got a lot of medium bubbles throughout.

So what is different between the first batch and subsequent batches? Assuming steam (not air) is being delivered in both batches, it can only be either:

* temperature of the wand, and/or
* pressure of the steam

So tomorrow I'm going back to the water trick, but will purge for at least 30 seconds, and avoid re-pressurizing the Bellman in between. I know using lower steam pressure doesn't seem right, since supposedly the Bellman puts out less than many espresso machines. But without that theory I'm having trouble understanding the "awesome second batch" phenomenon.

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#23: Post by DaveB » replying to monkeygrinder »

Glad to have another tester on board. :D

Some thoughts: In the video, his 1st purge is only 6 seconds, and the 2nd purge is less than 3 seconds. This certainly doesn't replicate steaming a 1st pitcher of milk. The pitcher he's using appears to be 16oz, and so 1/2 full would be 8 oz. This is double the amount I normally steam for an 8 oz latte, and so this amount would be much easier to control. Note that he steams the milk for 33 seconds.

When I did the "water bath trick" for 20-30 seconds and went to steam with no time for rebound, the power was a bit anemic and I never really got a good whirlpool going, but it was easy to control. However, with more than my 4 oz I don't think it would work very well, so I'd recommend a rebound of at least 10-15 seconds. It doesn't seem necessary to reach to point of the relief valve going off. Good luck and keep us posted.
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#24: Post by DamianWarS »

cidadao wrote:I went ahead and purchased a used Bellman CXE-25 in good condition. Any tips on use with an eye towards safety? If there are threads you know about pertaining to the topic, I'd be grateful for the redirect. Abraço
Make sure the lid is on tight. I made the mistake of trusting someone to tighten the lid for me and put it on the burner, well it wasn't tight enough and as it built pressure there was a sudden depressurization out of the lid, it sucked the seals right out and the unit left the burner and landed on the floor with hot water everywhere. So make sure the lid is tight.


#25: Post by monkeygrinder »

So I stumbled onto this post by 'spromance', and decided to give it a try. This resulted in major success for me. Here are the exact steps I followed:

1. Started with a little over 1" of water in the Bellman (about halfway to the center flange)
2. With the wand valve fully open, started heating
3. At ~1:55, I noticed steam escaping through the wand. It was obvious air was escaping along with the steam, since the stream was
punctuated and not steady
4. Let the steam escape until the flow smoothed out and it appeared only steam was escaping. This took 55 seconds.
5. Closed the main valve and waited until the relief valve started hissing (total time from beginning: 5:50).
6. Shut off the gas, removed Bellman from the stove, did a quick purge (just a couple of seconds)
7. In my cup with ~6 oz milk, barely submerged the tip, let some air incorporate (8-10 seconds), then fully submerged to heat, maybe 30 seconds or so

I then decided to try again. Completely cooled down the Bellman and started over, and got pretty much the same results. Granted, the foam wasn't quite as smooth as 'wet paint', but that is more likely my technique than anything since I'm a total beginner. And at least I didn't have the annoying large bubbles that I used to, and that several others here on HB have reported.


#26: Post by cidadao »

DamianWarS wrote:Make sure the lid is on tight. I made the mistake of trusting someone to tighten the lid for me and put it on the burner, well it wasn't tight enough and as it built pressure there was a sudden depressurization out of the lid, it sucked the seals right out and the unit left the burner and landed on the floor with hot water everywhere. So make sure the lid is tight.
Great tip. Only worry is that I'll take it too far, and strip the screws/threads. Not sure this thing is worth all the trouble!

I got my unit a few days ago. Solid build quality; my unit seems to be in good condition. Am having trouble finding replacement gaskets, for when they inevitably give out.

After a good first steam - plenty of microfoam and a velvety texture throughout - I've had trouble replicating the results. Don't have much of a pitcher to work with, at the moment, and am a complete newcomer to the art of steamed milk, so expecting things to get better in the coming weeks.


#27: Post by jgood »

I have been using the Bellman for about 2 years. I find that if I fill it up to a tiny bit below the bottom of the nut of that holds the pressure release valve, heat it up till the pressure release valve is releasing pressure, purge once, start grinding (as the espresso machine has been preheating), pull 2 double shots (for wife and me), purge once more, and stream the milk, it works very well. I don't get the concern about air in the Bellman, as it is releasing steam through the pressure release valve while I pull the shots. I do find that a small pitcher is what the machine likes and I wouldn't attempt to steam more milk than 2 short caps require, in a go.


#28: Post by monkeygrinder »

cidadao wrote:Am having trouble finding replacement gaskets, for when they inevitably give out.
Have you tried this site? I have no idea whether they have the gaskets in stock, but looks promising.


#29: Post by DamianWarS »

DaveB wrote:A recent thread entitled How to clean a Bellman steamer? in the Repairs, Restorations & Mods sub-forum branched off into a discussion of idiosyncrasies and woes relating to the unit. IMHO, the news I am about to share is fully worthy of its own thread, and it's more appropriate to be in the Tips and Techniques section. It's worth noting that I post this in the context of my having read everything I could find on the Bellman going back at least 10 years, on HB and beyond. So without further ado, strap on your seatbelts an prepare to be amazed! 8)

I made this stop-the-press post™ yesterday in that thread, and to follow up, this morning I boiled approx 1 cup of water in my PID kettle and added it to the Bellman, striving for a level about an inch deep. With the unit on the stove, I turned up the gas as high as possible without the flames coming up the sides. I positioned it to be slightly off-center so the handle and the steam knob wouldn't get hit with direct heat. I set my stopwatch and the pressure valve starting hissing in 5 minutes flat! I then submerged the wand fully into a vessel of cold water (as depicted in the linked post above) and opened the valve all the way. Interestingly, I didn't get any large bubbles but kept in open for appox. 10 seconds anyway. I waited till the pressure built up again to hissing, turned the heat down to low, did a quick purge, and prepared to steam. With exactly 4 oz milk in my small Cafelat pitcher, I got an immediate whirlpool going with good control, and I ended up with most excellent microfoam rivaling that of the BDB! I repeated the process for a 2nd latte with 4 oz milk, and again was met with success. When it cooled I measured the remaining water and there was 140mL left.

My takeaway is that it might be a combination of purging air from the device as well as cooling the wand, which is super-heated as it's in direct uninsulated contact with the boiler. Additionally, I confirmed that you can get away with very small amounts of water and still make at least a couple of drinks back-to-back. I have to say, a 5 minute heat up time (using pre-boiled water) is pretty awesome! During last summer's preventive power outages (one lasting 4 days), I had lots of practice time with the Bellman, but could never got results as good as I did this morning, and many times it was much worse. I hope this helps!
Some time ago I shelved the bellman because it was just too inconsistent and uncontrollable aeration and I switched to frothing via French press.

I came across this thread and I tried it out today. Where I live (and during this odd season) it's hard to get fresh milk and I need to use UHT box milk (and there is a shortage of those too, I'm using UHT 250ml box milk because it's all I can find). I didn't have any chilled and had to open a new box so it was room temp milk. I did the extra purging instructions, inserted wand all the way to the bottom with cold water, lots of bubbles, and I let it run until the bubbles balanced out (maybe 20-30 seconds) then brought it to pressure again and it was able to produce a really nice texture with the milk and it felt like I had good control over the texturing which is not the experience I remembered (and I was using room temp milk). So I might just take it down from the shelve and start using it again.

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#30: Post by DaveB »

I just had a great result steaming my usual 4 oz. I poured just over 1" of boiling water into the Bellman, turned on the heat, and started the timer with the steam valve wide open. At 01:10 water started sputtering from the wand. It quickly switched to a weak steady steam. I let it go till 02:00 and closed the steam valve. I waited a couple more minutes and then prepared a shot. At 05:30 the relief valve hadn't gone off so I did a quick purge to test the steam power. It seemed strong so I immediately began steaming. Came out great!

I'm starting to think the timing isn't so critical. As long as there's a reasonably long period of purging and sufficient pressure built back up, it's good to go. Again, there's no compelling reason to use more than 1" of water in my experience - in fact I've done 2 drinks back to back successfully with this amount.
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