Microfoam for fast vs. slow milk steaming espresso machines - Page 7

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

#61: Post by Londonplug »

Does the amount of milk being steamed play a part in the end result? I say this because when i go into any cafe or bar including the likes of Starbucks and Cafe nero i do not see anybody messing or fanying around with the milk, they just have a big picher {not chilled} and just shove the steam wand into it, in fact alot of the time they just stand it on the machine with the wand steaming away whilst they do some thing else, then they pour the foam into cappas or whatever and just top the pitcher back up again adding cold milk to the allready steamed and foamed milk in the picher and foam it all up again, and so it goes on and on reheating and reheating never emptying or cleaning the pitcher and allways with good results??So i allways ask myself "How on earth do they do that?"

At Home i can foam larger amounts of milk in a i presume 20 0z pitcher but even then have to have the wand and position of the pitcher just right other wise i just get bubbles on top of hot milk, and to foam a small amount for a cappa i have to use a 12 Espro toriod pitcher otherwise it just doesnt realy work , and also for both pitchers i have had to block one of the holes on the 2 hole steam tip with a cocktail stick

Perhaps somebody who knows what they are doing could get diferent results out of my equiptment but it does look to me the Bigger the jug and and quantity of milk the less care needed to produce a decent end result

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#62: Post by Peppersass »

The amount of milk relative to the size of the pitcher definitely makes a difference: filling the pitcher to between 1/3-1/2 of capacity (about 1/4" below the spout) seems to work best. It doesn't work very well to fill the pitcher more than that (can get messy quickly) or steam small amounts of milk in a large pitcher (can overstretch or overheat easily.)

I've seen the same thing you have in high-volume cafes: they fill a large pitcher and let it steam while they do other things. They reheat previously foamed milk, too. I don't know about Cafe Nero, but I wouldn't hold up Starbucks as an example of good technique. I've never seen good microfoam in one of those stores, and usually it's awful stuff: lots of big bubbles, dry, stiff, etc. So it's not clear to me that the large pitcher helps their technique in any way, except that it takes longer to heat the milk so they can do other stuff while that's happening.

I regularly visit a decent cafe on the Jersey short where some of the baristas steam in large quantities, and add more milk and re-steam as needed. The milk tastes OK, but it's definitely not the best quality microfoam. But I don't know if that's technique or the reheating itself. In theory, you should be able to reheat and still get good microfoam, but the thought of heating and reheating the same milk sounds yucky to me.

Maybe some of our pro baristas can comment on this.