jtrops Senior Member Joined: 25 Dec 2008 Posts: 125 Location: Colorado, USA Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Gaggia Factory Grinder: Zass Turkish/Kitchenaid pro... Drip: Vietnamese pour over Roaster: Heat Gun/DB
Posted Fri Jan 7, 2011, 12:50pm Subject: Re: how to make microfoam without steamer?
When I was making a moka pot every morning I tried a variety of ways to heat and foam the milk without a steamer. Some of the methods work better than others, but in the end none of them gave microfoam. The foam you end up with is more fluffy, and pours out on top of the milk. It's hard to describe, but microfoam pours like thick milk. In the end I picked up a stove top milk steamer and it works perfectly. I haven't used it in years, but I keep it around just in case I may someday want a cappuccino while camping.
The next best way that I was able to do it was to use a plunger milk frother with milk heated in a double boiler. That method works pretty well, and as long as you don't go overboard with the foaming it is passable.
I know because I've done it that a French Press can make the kind of milk it takes to pour latte art--and then execute it.
It's not the easiest or quickest maneuver, (and it will take trial-and-error) but it can be done with a French Press, a microwave (or stove), a spoon, and a pouring vessel (ideally a small, well-designed pouring pitcher, though I've poured a heart out of a 2-cup Pyrex [after the milk is transferred from the FP to the Pyrex]).
I did this for a while... while my mixer was not a Bamix, it is very similar in design (stick mixer).
Like any other milk operation, speed is key. 5 to 10 minutes is an eternity in milk terms; aim for 20-30 seconds of blending, then another 30-50 seconds warming the milk (I used a microwave), then pour immediately.
Just like with steaming, overstretching the milk is bad, overheating the milk is bad, and you have to use excellent quality milk for truly excellent results.
Never exactly microfoam, but it was thick and luxurious and enjoyed.
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