Microfoam for fast vs. slow milk steaming espresso machines

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
Anvan

#1: Post by Anvan »

another_jim wrote:I heat the milk as the shot starts without stretching it much, then set it aside as the shot finishes. By the time the shot has finished, the milk has stretched and thickened by itself, so that a few knocks and swirls has it ready to pour.
Jim, is this self-stretching and self-thickening peculiar to the Strega and the tip you are using, or is this phenomenon universal to your experience?



...split from Bezzera Strega - Second Look by moderator...

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jammin

#2: Post by jammin »

Jim experiences several unique phenomenons in his universe.

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another_jim
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#3: Post by another_jim »

Anvan wrote:Jim, is this self-stretching and self-thickening peculiar to the Strega and the tip you are using, or is this phenomenon universal to your experience?
No, the milk foam thickens up as its proteins curdle around the bubbles. This takes time. If the frothing is very slow, like on a home machine, it happens while you froth. If the frothing goes fast, there is a time delay between the milk heating up and it getting thick.

Jackson, my experiences come from blind and paired comparisons, and other unusual habits. So I'd call them rare, but not unique. The real issue is whether they are replicable. The milk thickening is, as far as I know. Some of the other stuff, not so much.
Jim Schulman

Anvan

#4: Post by Anvan »

Thanks Jim - I'd missed that fine point, and it goes a long way to explaining the different behavior of milk frothed with my LP versus the GS/3. I can get happy results from either, but the two form a reasonable working definition of "polar opposite" in the steaming department (as well as some others I suppose).

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the_trystero

#5: Post by the_trystero »

Interesting side discussion, this could explain the differences I'm seeing between my Livietta and my Astoria.
"A screaming comes across the sky..." - Thomas Pynchon

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cannonfodder
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#6: Post by cannonfodder »

jammin wrote:Jim experiences several unique phenomenons in his universe.
About every machine made by Elektra acts the same way. Some of the best steaming machines out there IMHO.
Dave Stephens

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another_jim
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#7: Post by another_jim »

Anvan wrote:Thanks Jim - I'd missed that fine point, and it goes a long way to explaining the different behavior of milk frothed with my LP versus the GS/3. I can get happy results from either, but the two form a reasonable working definition of "polar opposite" in the steaming department (as well as some others I suppose).
There are fast and slow steamers, but there are also sweet and not so sweet steamers. The home Elekras are medium paced and sweet, the Bezzeras and commercial Elektras fast and sweet. Some of the Cimbali tips are fast and horrible, and I never much liked the slow stock Silvia tip either.

Fast versus slow is easy to explain, it's just heat; but I have no clue why some hole patterns, either fast or slow, make a luscious latex paint micro-foam, while others make a useless curds and whey.
Jim Schulman

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drgary
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#8: Post by drgary » replying to another_jim »

Jim, I wonder whether you're looking at variables like temperature, pressure, hole size, with resulting bubble size, and dispersion pattern? Perhaps the combination of these affects how quickly the milk is heated and affects protein bonding through sensitive chemical changes. Probably the engineers at Elektra played with such variables until they got something that worked well. There's no replacement for hands-on experimenting. So maybe some of the variables can be adjusted with barista skills -- getting a good sense of one's machine. Jim and others, have you found that it takes some practice working out water purging, tip placement, valve opening and steam time to dial in a machine?
Gary
LMWDP#308

What I WOULD do for a good cup of coffee!

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another_jim
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#9: Post by another_jim »

I'll need to make some videos. With good and fast 3 to 5 hole steam tips. all the stretching, tearing, sucking and other techniques they talk about are about are as much use as abracadabra. You flush the tip, stick it straight in the milk, heat it in a few seconds, let the tip give it all the swirl it needs, then you stop steaming and wait for the milk to get a texture like latex paint (giving it an occasional swirl). Then it's ready to pour. With a slow 1 or 2 hole tip, you will need to angle it to get the milk swirl, and you'll need to go longer, with the milk ready to pour when you stop steaming; but the rest is the same -- no tearing, stretching, or other drama.

If your tip does lots of drama and FX when it steams, it probably isn't that good.
Jim Schulman

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the_trystero

#10: Post by the_trystero »

So with the powerful 5 hole tip on my Mr Espresso I should sink the tip, steam, keeping an eye to make sure there is some good swirling (or rolling?), stop when it's hot, and let it sit for a bit swirling it occasionally?

I'll give it a shot. My Livietta takes quite a bit longer so it's ready to go when I'm done steaming.
"A screaming comes across the sky..." - Thomas Pynchon