Milk overpowering coffee - too watery

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Mack21

#1: Post by Mack21 »

Hi All

Pretty new to home coffee so please bear with me if I'm asking a completely stupid question! I've had a root around on the site but can't find much discussion on this point.

We exclusively drink milky coffee at home (best description of what we're going for is a flat white). I'm reasonably confident that the espresso shot is decent enough (fresh beans roasted no more than 4 weeks ago, consistently dosing 18g for approx 36g in 26-29 secs). Using a Sage Barista Pro. Using about 8oz of milk in our flat whites

The problem we're having is that the milk is overpowering the coffee in the cup. It all tastes a bit watery / like coffee-flavoured milk. No matter what we try we can't get that "coffee taste" that the shop around the corner manages to produce! Have tried a few different beans but having the same problem with all

We've tried all sorts of variations with steaming the milk (more / less foam etc) but still can't nail it. I don't think we could updose much because of the smaller PF on the Sage.

Any tips would be hugely appreciated! Is this a limitation with the grinder / steam wand in the Sage or (as I'm hoping) I'm messing something up?

Thanks very much in advance!

Plinyyounger
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#2: Post by Plinyyounger »

Hi. When I make flat whites I do not use that much milk. I use between 6-8oz for a Med/lrg latte. I believe the traditional flat white calls for approx 4 oz of stretched milk. Enjoy, that will give you the coffee flavor you are looking for.

threesips
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#3: Post by threesips »

Welcome to HB, Ian!

A few thoughts. A traditional flat white in cafes is often less than 8 oz. of milk. So you can try making the next one with 4 oz. of milk or even less and see if the balance is more to your liking. I would start with that.

What kind of beans are you using? Light-roasted, floral or fruit-forward beans can make for beautiful espresso but sometimes get lost in milk. A medium-roasted bean or blend that has a more chocolate/caramel/nuts flavor profile may give the stronger coffee presence you're after.

Are you using full fat milk? Low fat milk can produce less rich micro foam which might give a perception of being more "watery" than you like.

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

Bluenoser

#4: Post by Bluenoser »

Lots of things can make it watery

1) grinding finer to get an extraction of 36 gram in 30-40 seconds will add some extra body and bitterness, but it will be balanced by the richness of the milk. Some beans do better with a finer/slower grind.

2) extract more than 36g.. I extract 40g for 17g in.. so you might try 42 g just to see the taste difference

3) I only use 200g of 3% milk.. I like the rich milk and would not use skim .. the cafes are typically using full milk.. But 8oz is more in the latte range than flat white/ cappuccino.

4) a darker roast often blends better with milk if you like chocolate notes.. I don't like the really dark, oily roasts, but a medium dark should be good.

5) if you have a bottomless PF, check for channeling.. as that can lead to a weaker extraction.

Zwiggy

#5: Post by Zwiggy »

I drink lattes with 10oz of milk and still find them strong sometimes :lol:

With the sage do you give the steam wand time to get to power before steaming? Even wait a few seconds for it to continue powering up after the light goes off. I find the steam becomes drier and more powerful if you give it a few seconds longer. Then turn it off very briefly and insert into milk and back on as soon as you can to get less water milk. Volume will still be the same I guess if you fill the mug but at least it should be milky rather than watery.

erik82

#6: Post by erik82 »

Do you split the double espresso for 2 latte's? I use a double espresso per cappuccino or latte and that really makes a difference compared to a sngle espresso.

Nunas
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#7: Post by Nunas »

One thing I noticed is the tendency towards complacency. That is, "it's only for a milk drink, so the shot does not matter". For some time, I pulled my shots long for milk drinks thinking it didn't matter. One day I pulled a ristretto and made a cappuccino with it...wow! After that, I played around with 1:1, 1:2 and 1:3 shots and found a world of difference between them. We like our espresso 1:2 but were pulling our caps over 1:3. For us, 1:2 is right for our caps and our shots. So, try pulling your shots a bit shorter and see if that helps.

Mack21

#8: Post by Mack21 »

Thanks everyone for the responses!

Maybe it was a bit misleading to say we're aiming for flat white - a better explanation might have been to say that we like to drink about 8oz milky drinks but at the moment we're finding them too milky.

It sounds like less milk is the quickest way to deal with it (d'uh!)

I'm using full fat milk and the beans are supposed to be good for milky drinks - https://www.roastedbrown.com/shop/brazil-carmo-de-minas

Using a double shot per "flat white" - my settings are geared towards drinking straight espresso though, I wonder is it a little too smooth for milk (if that's even a thing)

I'm going to try grinding a bit finer and extracting a bit more as suggested by Bluenoser. I think it's a great call to power up the steam wand a bit first as well, it might be as simple as the first few seconds spitting out hot water rather than steam

Thanks everyone! I'm going to play around for a few days and hopefully will crack it. If I do I'll post with an update which will hopefully help some lost souls like myself in the future!

Cheers
Ian

Mack21

#9: Post by Mack21 »

Nunas wrote:One day I pulled a ristretto and made a cappuccino with it...wow! After that, I played around with 1:1, 1:2 and 1:3 shots and found a world of difference between them. We like our espresso 1:2 but were pulling our caps over 1:3. For us, 1:2 is right for our caps and our shots. So, try pulling your shots a bit shorter and see if that helps.
Will defo try this - thank you!

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GC7
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#10: Post by GC7 »

As others have stated, our flat white's are also 5 or 6 oz total with the double espresso shot.

That said, not all coffees or blends go well with milk. Perhaps you should try different coffees that are darker or more full bodied and they will suit your taste for large milk based drinks.