Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
Nunas wrote:++1 I use a milk thermometer every time, ever since a barista instructor proved to me that most of us could not consistently come even close to the temperatures we thought we were feeling with our hands.
There was a related discussion several months ago, and so I decided to test for myself. For a couple weeks I tested the temperature of the steamed milk using between 3 and 4 oz in a thick-walled .3L Cafelat pitcher. I would heat until I could no longer keep my palm on side of pitcher, and then add a few seconds. Then I would test with a quick-read calibrated digital thermometer. It was always between 135°-140°. The one time I missed (out of dozens of tests) it was 132° and perfectly usable.
I'm relatively new to milk-steaming and as far as I'm aware, do not posses any superpowers.
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- Team HB
With time and practice you can forgo the thermometer all together. In addition to the one hand on the pitcher method pay attention to the sound. The pitch of the milk changes as it heats. With a few years of practice, you can tell how hot it is by the sound.
The barista express pitcher comes with a temperature strip on it which i use and works well. within a few degrees range each time.
- Supporter ♡
cannonfodder wrote:With time and practice you can forgo the thermometer all together. In addition to the one hand on the pitcher method pay attention to the sound. The pitch of the milk changes as it heats. With a few years of practice, you can tell how hot it is by the sound.
I've tried to do it blind using touch and using the thermometer both digital and dial and used the thermometer to better calibrate my own sense of touch. Working at a busy cafe this can be done in a shift but at home it's a lot harder and takes a longer time. You can practice with water too and of course it depends on the quality of materials of the milk jug and different ones may feel hotter/cooler to the touch. I have generally noticed that when it becomes to hot to touch it's in the high 50s to low 60s. So what I do is when it reaches this point I count how many seconds I can hold my hand there until it's a very rapid sense. It's a bit of playing with and if you immediately release your hand and put it back on your skin is still heated so you need to give your skin time to cool down before you touch it again. Really all you're doing is giving the milk a little bit extra time to heat and you could also just figure out the time it needs with your steamer. I assume with commercial equipment it heats so fast it's not an issue. but before we take advice from high volume cafes that steam milk in 15 seconds try it with your machine and you may need to developed a system that will work for you to sense it by touch.
One of my favorite accessories. Many will say but I can get a $12 analog one, yes, but the easy of use, joy, and accuracy every morning every year. It's a no brainer to me. Also easy to hold and pick up, and when I take it out of the pitcher, set it on its head, and NO milk on my counter.