If you are steaming milk at home or at work and haven’t quite got to grips with it, here are a few basic tips and techniques that might help…
- When texturing milk, the air should only be introduced right at the beginning, before the milk gets warm (the air going in at this point creates a ‘chirping’ noise). This is the point that you define whether you are making a cappuccino or flat white
- When texturing milk you should never move the jug around vigorously – use small, controlled movements to achieve the results – let the steam do the work…
The temperature of your milk should be between 65-70°C. Ideally 66-68°C. A touch to the side of the jug will give you an idea – when it becomes too hot to touch, you are close to the right temperature. Use a thermometer in the beginning to get a feel for this.
Do not heat to over 70°C as this causes the milk proteins to break down and will make your milk taste bitter and pasty (basically burnt!)
If your milk is ‘screeching’ at you, it is a good indication something is wrong. Either:
1) Your nozzle is too close to the bottom of the jug
2) There is not enough steam coming through – turn up the steam
3) You have over-boiled and burnt the milk
1) Place nozzle 10mm under surface of milk
2) Turn steam on to required level – if it screeches then you need to turn up the steam, or it could be your nozzle is in too deep. No screeching allowed!
Now, depending on the size of jug:
3) Lower the jug very gently until air starts to be introduced (producing that ‘chirping’ sound)
4) Watch the volume of the milk increase
5) As soon as the required volume of milk has been acquired (this may only take a few seconds), drop the nozzle back down into the milk by gently lifting the jug to stop air being introduced
6) Find a spot for the nozzle relative to the jug where a ‘rolling’ action is introduced. The milk should be rolling over without you introducing any more air (no screeching!) This action breaks down the bubbles into smaller and smaller bubbles until you get a smooth, shiny milk that is the signature of a great coffee
7) Once the milk is ready, turn off the steam, remove the jug then wipe the wand and put some steam through it to clean it (purge) . A sharp tap of the jug on a hard surface will remove any remaining larger bubbles. At this point it is also important to keep the milk moving by wobbling the jug slightly, otherwise the milk will clump (rafting)
8) The milk is ready to pour
Smooth creamy milk is the basis of all milk based coffees. Your milk should taste sweet and creamy and will carry the taste of the coffee.