Microfoam for fast vs. slow milk steaming espresso machines - Page 3

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

#21: Post by shadowfax »

peacecup wrote:Isn't the steam from the boiler full of air too?
Only if you have vapor lock (trapped air) in your steam boiler, in which case the second you open the steam you'll lose most of your steaming power. Normal steam from a properly functioning steam boiler is pure water vapor. It condenses as it fires into the sub-212°F milk in the pitcher and adds no air at all to the milk.

I'm confused by a claim that you can produce microfoam-or foam of any kind-without integrating at least some air into the milk before 'burying' the tip. I'd agree that you don't need to integrate much and that far too much is typically made of steaming technique, but no air incorporation at all? If that's what's being suggested, I beg to differ.
Nicholas Lundgaard

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another_jim
Team HB

#22: Post by another_jim »

Have I ever said put the tip to the bottom? Put the tip so it rolls the milk without making a lot of noise or blowing bubbles, and a properly designed tip will incorporate all the air you need, and the milk will thicken in about ten to fifteen seconds

If you can successfully steam four ounces of milk on a four or five hole commercial tip that heats the milk in around five seconds, stay with what you are doing. If you can't, try what I'm saying and see if it works. If you can neither get microfoam with small amounts of milk, nor are willing to try something new; go ahead and call me smug -- you obviously need cheering up.
Jim Schulman

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shadowfax

#23: Post by shadowfax »

Sorry if I misunderstood. I think what you are/were describing is similar to what I do already with a very fast steamer (GS3 w/ burn-me wand) and small amounts of milk (I can't remember the last time I steamed over 4-5 oz. of milk). I guess the sound descriptions are just something you interpret differently depending on what you're used to.
Nicholas Lundgaard

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jammin

#24: Post by jammin »

another_jim wrote:Have I ever said put the tip to the bottom? Put the tip so it rolls the milk without making a lot of noise or blowing bubbles, and a properly designed tip will incorporate all the air you need, and the milk will thicken in about ten to fifteen seconds.
Your post, whether you mean it or not, made it sound like you do not incorporate any air. Now that you've successfully back-peddled, it is clear that your "special" technique is ubiquitous.

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espressotime

#25: Post by espressotime »

I think she steams pretty easy with the 4 tip.
http://s143.photobucket.com/albums/r156 ... 005-53.mp4

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spiffdude

#26: Post by spiffdude »

Thanks for that investigation Jim. The case flexing would not be a big issue then since all the hardware is mounted the steel frame
Damn this forum, I've had too m..muh...mah..mmmm..much caffeine!

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michaelbenis

#27: Post by michaelbenis »

another_jim wrote:Have I ever said put the tip to the bottom? Put the tip so it rolls the milk without making a lot of noise or blowing bubbles, and a properly designed tip will incorporate all the air you need, and the milk will thicken in about ten to fifteen seconds

If you can successfully steam four ounces of milk on a four or five hole commercial tip that heats the milk in around five seconds, stay with what you are doing. If you can't, try what I'm saying and see if it works. If you can neither get microfoam with small amounts of milk, nor are willing to try something new; go ahead and call me smug -- you obviously need cheering up.
I think the sound tip is the most important cue.

The idea that you are pulling air into the milk by bubbling close to the surface is nonsense in my opinion and experience. You are just creating broken coarse froth on the surface while doing little to texture the milk below. The rolling of the milk circulating in the pitcher is what draws the air in and gives microfoam.

But I suspect we are all just talking ourselves into holes on this one and actually adopting very similar techniques.
LMWDP No. 237

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another_jim
Team HB

#28: Post by another_jim »

The problem is twofold: first is that there's a lot of bad information out there derived from the vaguaries of steaming with bad single boiler machines (e.g. tearing noises -- stretching, then warming -- the seven chakras of foam formation, etc, etc); second is that it's nearly impossible to make a good video of foaming, since all you get is a white out. If we have any talented videographers, this would be a good project for them.
Jim Schulman

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Carneiro

#29: Post by Carneiro »

A glass pitcher and a slow motion camera? :mrgreen:

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Peppersass
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#30: Post by Peppersass »

MY experience is similar to that of Nicholas, which makes sense since we have the same machine and wand (though maybe a different tip.) I believe we have our steam pressure dialed down to about the same level, 1.4 BAR. This lengthens the time required for steaming, which some believe produces a sweeter product. No accident, as I consulted with Nicholas about this when I first got my GS/3.

If I sink the tip below the surface, such that all four holes are submerged and I don't hear any little sucking noises at the wand/milk interface, I get hot milk. That said, it's possible to sink the tip just below the surface (which is what you want to do during the texturing phase), and get those sucking noises -- if the motion induced in the milk is violent enough. All that's happening is that the tip is sometimes momentarily uncovered as the milk rolls past. Sometimes when I don't pull in any air during the stretching phase, I'll deliberately suck in some air that way while texturing.

I'll experiment with boosting the GS/3 to max steam power and see if I can get away with submerging the tip such that no sucking sounds are heard. That would make it similar to what I saw when a professional barista in New York steamed milk using a Linea. The whole thing took about 5 seconds. The barista told me he thinks the product is better if the steaming is quick -- he doesn't let it go until the pitcher gets hot to the touch.

I didn't notice if he let the pitcher sit after steaming. I don't think so. But I definitely have seen the phenomenon of the microfoam getting thicker the longer the milk sits. I think in my case it's the microfoam separating and floating to the top. I steam skim milk which tends to do that.

The other comment I would add is that microfoam isn't black and white. There are degrees of thickness. I almost always get microfoam that's silky, shiny and delicious, not a bubble in sight. But the perfect texture for beautiful latte art etching is quite specific, especially when steaming skim milk, and I hit that maybe one in three attempts.