WHAT is the magic secret to milk steaming? - Page 3

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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#21: Post by SonVolt »

With the help of this thread I am now steaming like a pro! I used the soap method for training. While it's not a perfect emulation, I probably gained 6 months of steaming practice in a single 45 minutes soap session. Whereas before I was only practicing in real time by making 2-4 lattes on the weekend for my wife with mixed results. Using soap water and a toroid pitcher I arrived at 2 changes to my routine that made a huge difference -

1) Vertical Rolling: After the stretching phase I focused on vertical swirling instead of horizontal. In my old method I would rest the steam wand against the spout at an angle towards the side of the pitcher and spin the milk around like a toilet bowl. I stopped doing that.

2) Stopped Holding the Pitcher: After the stretching phase I set the pitcher down on the drip tray and pointed the steam wand directly down the center. That creates a much better vertical roll than anything I was doing before while holding the pitcher. It's also less stressful as it frees up my hands for other things like pulling the shot and checking for temp with my finger tips.


#22: Post by Kellyk »

I found the same with my Profitec. I've just started putting the pitcher on the drip tray after and it does work well as it's the right height. I don't have a toroid pitcher but with the 4 hole tip I think it does much the same in any pitcher.

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#23: Post by bluesman »

whitedime wrote:is the toroid that pitcher with the post/collumn in the middle? is that a gimmick or does it really work.
I find it hard to believe that it works equally well with tips of all configurations. The steam tip on my current machine has 4 holes that send jets at about a 45 degree angle to the vertical axis of the wand. My last machine had a single hole tip that shot the steam straight down along the axis of the wand. I've seen tips that put out steam at a fairly acute angle to the axis, and I've seen a few that seemed to be as much as 60 degrees above the axis.

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#24: Post by whitedime (original poster) replying to bluesman »

So I got the toroid... I've had one or two excellent milk steamings but still screwing up. Whats the recommendation with a single hole tip, and whats your recommendation with a three hole tip ?

Also what TEMP do you guys recommend setting steam at ? I have the one on my ECM and also a really nice stove top unit.


#25: Post by FirstBetta »

I also prefer the Motta pitcher as opposed to the generic cheap pitchers. The Espro Toroid and the Cafelat pitcher, are also preferred though not very strongly. The Cafelat and Motta also look better and they feel more solid to the touch and are made from thicker material. I found that what helped me most was the old Carnegie Hall saw "practice, practice, practice". Also no matter what pitcher I use, the easiest way to get a lot of foam is to place the tip in the center of the milk and adjusting the depth in the milk until I get the "kissing" sound and keeping it there until the pitcher feels warm to the touch. I keep the wand at about 10 to 15 degrees to the vertical. It will also generate some bubbles on the top of the milk until the kissing sound starts. Then move about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way to the side of the pitcher, drop the tip a little into the milk until I get a combination of horizontal and vertical swirling until any bubbles that have appeared on the top of the milk have disappeared and the pitcher gets too hot to hold for any length of time. Sometimes I have to adjust the angle of the bottom of the pitcher to the horizontal to get a good swirl.

Now I need to get the hang of latte art.


#26: Post by FirstBetta »

Adding to the previous post I also have to use lactose-free milk and I don't see any difference in the end result. That would seem to infer that the milk being used doesn't have a large effect on the process.


#27: Post by mrjag »

As a counter argument, I almost exclusively use 2% milk and without too much trouble. Once in a while we have some whole milk and its drop dead easy to steam. On the flip side, I've had zero success with almond milk the 3-4 times I tried it.

For me, ditching the toilet bowl swirl in favor of a vertical roll was the turning point. If I had to learn it all over again, that would be my primary tip: stretch the milk with the tip barely on the surface, then submerge it about 1cm and find the vertical roll.


#28: Post by Eiern »

Great it's getting better for you! Here is a shot from my wife's latte today, steamed with the small toroid standing all the time on the drip tray, Classica's wand straight down. Pretty decent.

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#29: Post by rodcell »

I have the Motta, but struggle to steam good microfoam with soy milk (Pacific barista soy milk).
With the 1.5L HX machine (livia 90) and 2-small hole tip, I couldn't really get enough steam into the milk, so I switched to a more powerful, 4-normal hole tip, which has improved the steam output, but it's not very easy to control... it makes me wonder if it's something that one can practice and perfect or not.

Regarding steam pitcher, it seems that people with Motta and Espro seem to prefer Motta, so I guess I don't need to buy the Espro.

Has anyone heard of or tried this?
https://www.espressoparts.com/sproline- ... -steam-tip

It seems super expensive, to the point, where the money would be better spent saving up for a GS3 or something, but still, I am curious to know whether it's good.

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#30: Post by shawndo »

rodcell wrote: Has anyone heard of or tried this?
https://www.espressoparts.com/sproline- ... -steam-tip
Yes, that is the "foam knife" lots of discussion on this site. I have one on my Cremina (with an adapter) I like it, but honestly I'm not sure if it helped or I just got better at around the same time though.
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