Steaming Milk with 4-Hole Tip

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

#1: Post by Milligan »

I've struggled with my LM GS3 and its 4-hole tip for awhile. I had a Breville BE before with its one hole tip and weak steam but always made nice, marshmallowy foam that was perfect for latte art. I could easily make Capp foam and so forth. I used the typical 30 degree angle with the tip off center in the milk to stretch and then raised the pitcher to get a great swirling action. The foam always came out great. The BBE uses a one hole tip. I've used a Silvia as well and had no problem getting great barista worthy foam the first time.

The GS3 has never made that nice of foam even after gallons of milk and hours of trying different techniques with soap and water. I've made progress towards better foam and I can get it to pour latte art but never the kind of micro foam that I go out of the Breville. I changed over from a L208 tip to an L178 tip. That helped. I've raised and then lowered my steam pressure. I've tried a larger jug with more milk. I'm now at 1.5bar. It is quite frustrating knowing that much less expensive machines pump out perfect foam easily but this one is struggling.

I feel like the problem seems to be by the time I stretch the milk enough then I don't have enough time to texture before the milk gets too hot. I can't get a good swirling action to fully incorporate the air. I've tried using an angle to stretch and then offset the position to get a swirl but the 4 hole tip doesn't like to swirl. The best technique I've found is the tip straight up and down. Kiss the milk and let it stretch then plunge it down to cause agitation. There is no swirling action just a roll around the edges. I'm about to the point of trying to find a one hole tip for the GS3, but I don't think they make it.

So, folks with GS3 or perhaps the Linea Mini, what do you do? What tip do you have? Pressure? Are you happy with your micro foam?

haulin oats

#2: Post by haulin oats »

You can look into the Slayer 00 tip. it's a 4 hole tip with smaller diameter holes.

Unfortunately there aren't really any replacement tips for the LM machines outside of that one.


#3: Post by kidloco »

"I feel like the problem seems to be by the time I stretch the milk enough then I don't have enough time to texture before the milk gets too hot."

I switched to 4 holes 6 months ago with my Synchronika and I think in this sentence lies your problem. There is not much time to think "oh now I am stretching" , and then "let's go to the mixing phase" with 4 holes good steamer. Everything happens and once, everything happens fast. Add air for like 2 seconds and pretty wild and immediately go a bit deeper so you mix with just occasional slurp


#4: Post by Trop_de_Cafe »

I agree with the analysis above that with a good steamer and a 4-hole wand, basically everything happens _a lot_ faster. One other thought: years ago, out of frustration/desperation, I bought a small Espro 'Toroid' pitcher that was on sale, thinking that it might help me get better results with a Silvano (thermoblock). It did not; if anything, it made things harder. However, I recently acquired a dual-boiler machine with powerful steam (similar to your Synchronic)and a 4-hole steam tip, and using the Espro pitcher as they suggest, I got outstanding results on the first try.

Milligan (original poster)

#5: Post by Milligan (original poster) »

I'm currently using Motta pitchers. I'm apprehensive to try a highly specific pitcher instead of learning the "correct" technique. Surely there is a way to get velvety microfoam that I'd be proud of on the same level as a Breville Barista Express out of this thing.

Do you guys go straight up and down with your tip?


#6: Post by pschloes »

Following this topic with interest since I'm having the same issue with the 4 hole tip on an Eagle 1 Prima that I have had for about a year (2.0 Bar... I've tried lowering the pressure but that didn't help) ... it replaced my single hole Silvia which made nice micro-foam. Is there a better tip for the E1P?

Milligan (original poster)

#7: Post by Milligan (original poster) »

I've watched this video and my GS3 in no way gives a swirling action like that even with identical placement. I've tried both a 20oz Motta and a 20oz generic flat side pitcher. I've seen 4 hole tips on other machines that have a tighter grouping. The LM holes are widely spaced from each other. They don't have enough directionality to cause a swirl like that.

I know we have several GS3 and Linea members here and I'm very curious to know if anyone is 100% happy with their results they've been able to get from it consistently and if so then what technique you use.

User avatar
Kaffee Bitte

#8: Post by Kaffee Bitte »

Four hole steam tips are not all made the same. Some have holes that send the steam in four different directions. 3 hole often the same (looking at you La Pavoni...) This makes microfoam very difficult.

Best way to know how the steam comes out is just run it into an empty pitcher and check directionality of the streams. If it sends four jets straight ahead, that's perfect. If it sends four streams spread out then try to find a straight shooter. I suspect your present tip is a wild streamer.

Gs3 has the full power commercial steam so it's gonna scream straight through. Under 6 ounce is probably going to remain somewhat iffy on microfoam. Cafes in the US rarely steam less than 8 ounces at a time because they are making big milk drinks, hence the mighty steam.

If you love the flat whites and cappaccinos more like I do, the previous poster who said to go deeper with the tip is probably the best technique to get you there. If it's 3 or 4 ounces, don't stretch at all, just bury the tip so you can just see a tiny bit of it and let the steam aerate. Maybe one super fast slurp. Aim for a vigorous swirl as early as possible. Be prepared to cut back the steam a little towards the end and be quick to stop it.
Lynn G.
LMWDP # 110
★ Helpful


#9: Post by robmack »

Eye-opening advice for me in this thread. I have a double-boiler Quick Mill Vetrano machine fitted with a 4-hole steam arm tip. I've had great difficulty steaming the milk to a latte art consistency. Read these posts and changed over to the supplied 2-hole tip from the 4-hole and now I have much better control. I'll have to see if I can get a compatible 2-hole tip that directs the steam downwards as suggested by Lynn (now the streams are diametrically opposite and on a flat plane).
- Robert


#10: Post by Pressino »

I found that when I switched from a two to a four hole tip that it works much better if you don't angle the wand in the pitcher but instead simply point it straight down into the middle of the pitcher with the latter held with the bottom more or less level. This will give you a close to 360 degree swirling of the milk. That's essentially the idea behind the Espro Toroid pitcher when used with the typical one-hole tips in thermoblock machines.

Of course what others have said about the faster steaming of more powerful steam boilers is true, so you need to work through the entire microfoam creation process more quickly. Another thing you can do is throttle the steam valve a bit while foaming to find the best steam flow for your pitcher size. That's one of the reasons I prefer old style steam valves to the joystick type...and was a major consideration in my choice of the Pro700 over the Synchronika.