Milk foam in theory and in practice

Something that we discuss a lot, a lot at the moment is how to froth milk properly. Yes, you’re probably going to say it’s not a big deal, you just put the nozzle into the milk and get the steam on, but it’s more than that. Frothing the milk is not an easy thing especially when it comes to free pouring – the hardest form of coffee art. You have to pull perfect shots and to froth milk perfectly every time, only then you can start (trying) to make patterns on the coffee.

 I’m left with the impression that it’s written a lot for the pouring, but about the actual frothing of the milk there is almost nothing…or if I find something it will be very contradictory, so in the end you just end up more confused. The truth is that there’s no step by step manual how to steam milk, because there is no one way to do it right and, how I found out later, there are different kinds of milk foam – solid and dense foam for latte macchiato or cappuccino and a more liquid and creamy for cafè latte.

At the moment, we have assess to a semi-automated coffee machine Rancilio Epoca and a Rancilio MD40 grinder, so you can guess what’s happening. Yes, we practice whenever we can and by far I think we’ve learned quite a lot, we just have to master it. At least we know what the steamed milk should be like. Before we used to let the milk “chirp” for too long (that’s when the end of the steam wand is near the surface of the milk), therefore the foam was not so finely-pored and we couldn’t etch the milk on the surface of the coffee. Now we let the milk chirp for not too long and then we place the tip of the steam wand a little deeper in the milk to create the “whirlpool”. It’s really hard to explain what to do and especially when to do it, since it’s the quantity of milk that determines the amount of time needed to froth it. At the end the milk has to be glossy and creamy and it should taste sweet.

We started practicing in creating some basic coffee art such as the dot and the heart and who knows, we might get even further than expected, no matter that sometimes our “masterpieces” are far from the desired result. You need a crazy imagination to figure our designs out. Soon I’ll publish some photos from our better attempts, till then – happy frothing!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: