Steaming milk

Achieving the perfect milk isn't always easy. You're looking for that silky, creamy texture with just the right amount of air. This post will guide you through the techniques and temperature you need to create perfect milk.

First, determine which drink on the menu you are frothing milk for. In a cappuccino, you aim to aerate the milk quite a bit, achieving about 33% more volume than when you started is really good. If you aerate more than that, the quality of the texture will decrease, and it will be difficult to pour. For the rest of the menu, you're frothing latte milk, which means you'll aerate less, resulting in a creamy drink but without the thick layer of foam you have on your cappuccino.

How do I do it?

  1. Fill the jug up to half with milk. Regardless of the jug's size, you pour to the halfway mark, another good indicator is up to where the spout starts. Choose a jug that suits the amount of milk you want to froth.
  2. Place the steam wand no more than 1 cm into the milk.
  3. Tilt (not shake) the jug so that the steam wand is closer to the wall of the milk jug than it is to the centre. You want to create a whirlpool at the highest possible speed. That's why your placement is super important for giving the milk the momentum it needs in a circle.

  4. Time to start. Turn on the steam wand and focus on the whirlpool. In the first 5 seconds, decide what kind of milk you're making. For a cappuccino, you stay near the surface longer, thus aerating more. For latte milk, you only introduce a bit of air.

  5. As soon as you're satisfied with the amount of air, which you determine by seeing how much more volume you've got in the jug—maximum 33%—then you should submerge the spout about 1cm into the milk. Not more, otherwise you won't get all the bubbles from the surface involved, and you'll just spin milk at the bottom of the jug. This is to prevent new bubbles from forming and giving you an uneven milk consistency. You don't want to create a single new bubble. Focus on the whirlpool at as high but controlled a speed as possible. The whirlpool's speed pushes all the bubbles against the wall of the milk jug and aerates the milk. That's how you get that creamy, thick milk.
  6. Turn off the steam wand when the milk's temperature is between 60-65°C. Use a thermometer to check the temperature. We usually say it should be right in between being able to hold the milk jug and it being too hot to hold. Just at the point where it gets uncomfortably warm before you burn yourself.

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