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ARGH! I can't stop making capuccinos! (Milk frothing question)
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qualin
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qualin
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Posted Mon Jul 30, 2012, 7:39pm
Subject: ARGH! I can't stop making capuccinos! (Milk frothing question)
 

Ok, this is a newbie milk frothing question, I could use some advice.

I have a Rancilio Silvia with a 1-hole tip.  I'm waiting until the steam wand is blowing dry steam before I start, in other words, I don't see any water, just steam.

I'm using a 12 oz stainless steel steaming pitcher without anything special.

I'm filling the milk pitcher about roughly 3/8ths full of fresh 2 percent milk and steam with the thermometer in the jug. One of the things I'm making sure of is that
the milk doesn't "scream" and that it is swirling freely in the jug.

I'm making sure that when I steam, the steam wand is making "Sipping" noises and after I've stretched the milk far enough, (Usually until the froth is nearly level
with the top of the jug) I submerge the wand until it's about an inch below the milk's surface until it stops "Sipping" and steam until the milk hits about 65 C.
(Then milk then continues to heat up to just short of 70 C after I shut the steam off.)

The problem is that I find the the milk to be "flat", but there is lots of thick foam which gets poured out of the jug. So, I'm making near perfect capuccinos which I'm
pouring, but I can't seem to make a latte. I'm not even close to making any latte art because the milk isn't "Thick" enough.

When I've seen baristas steam milk, they always seem to hold the milk back with a spoon when they pour, then they spoon the froth onto the top. My guess is that
they don't spoon any froth when making a latte. Reading on this forum a bit, they always say that capuccinos shouldn't be spooned, they're poured. What about lattes?

I've watched the youtube instructional videos from wholelattelove (They're awesome) and I've been trying my best to copy that, but I can't seem to get it right.

Is there something I'm missing here? Any advice is highly appreciated. If there is a previous thread about this somewhere, or another video which one would recommend,
please point me to it. I'm going to apologize for asking a dumb question like this, but with great steam power comes.... well, you know.

Thanks everyone!

 
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StereoHeathen
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Posted Mon Jul 30, 2012, 8:44pm
Subject: Re: ARGH! I can't stop making capuccinos! (Milk frothing question)
 

If you're looking to make latte milk, rather than cappuccino milk, try incorporating much, much less air into the milk. That is, make your stretching phase shorter, or much more gentle.
Overall expansion for latte milk is generally no more than about 30%, and wet cappuccino closer to 50%.
What you describe would be close to 100% expansion. Which is not unreasonable, if you're looking to create a dry/drier cappuccino, but will also tend to separate much more easily and quickly, or never properly incorporate in the first place.
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FrankyD
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Posted Mon Jul 30, 2012, 8:58pm
Subject: Re: ARGH! I can't stop making capuccinos! (Milk frothing question)
 

qualin Said:

Ok, this is a newbie milk frothing question, I could use some advice.

I have a Rancilio Silvia with a 1-hole tip.  I'm waiting until the steam wand is blowing dry steam before I start, in other words, I don't see any water, just steam.

I'm using a 12 oz stainless steel steaming pitcher without anything special.

I'm filling the milk pitcher about roughly 3/8ths full of fresh 2 percent milk and steam with the thermometer in the jug. One of the things I'm making sure of is that
the milk doesn't "scream" and that it is swirling freely in the jug.

I'm making sure that when I steam, the steam wand is making "Sipping" noises and after I've stretched the milk far enough, (Usually until the froth is nearly level
with the top of the jug) I submerge the wand until it's about an inch below the milk's surface until it stops "Sipping" and steam until the milk hits about 65 C.
(Then milk then continues to heat up to just short of 70 C after I shut the steam off.)

The problem is that I find the the milk to be "flat", but there is lots of thick foam which gets poured out of the jug. So, I'm making near perfect capuccinos which I'm
pouring, but I can't seem to make a latte. I'm not even close to making any latte art because the milk isn't "Thick" enough.

When I've seen baristas steam milk, they always seem to hold the milk back with a spoon when they pour, then they spoon the froth onto the top. My guess is that
they don't spoon any froth when making a latte. Reading on this forum a bit, they always say that capuccinos shouldn't be spooned, they're poured. What about lattes?

I've watched the youtube instructional videos from wholelattelove (They're awesome) and I've been trying my best to copy that, but I can't seem to get it right.

Is there something I'm missing here? Any advice is highly appreciated. If there is a previous thread about this somewhere, or another video which one would recommend,
please point me to it. I'm going to apologize for asking a dumb question like this, but with great steam power comes.... well, you know.

Thanks everyone!

Posted July 30, 2012 link

I feel ya. I have a problem trying to steam milk too, and I'm not sure if it depends on the % milk fat or not.

Granted I haven't been to many different cafes, but I really only see the stopping and scooping of the foam on top. Those determined to make latte art have thick milk.

I still haven't figured out how to do that yet.
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TheSunInsideYou
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Posted Mon Jul 30, 2012, 9:11pm
Subject: Re: ARGH! I can't stop making capuccinos! (Milk frothing question)
 

qualin Said:

I'm making sure that when I steam, the steam wand is making "Sipping" noises and after I've stretched the milk far enough, (Usually until the froth is nearly level
with the top of the jug) I submerge the wand until it's about an inch below the milk's surface until it stops "Sipping" and steam until the milk hits about 65 C.
(Then milk then continues to heat up to just short of 70 C after I shut the steam off.)

Posted July 30, 2012 link

You're definitely stretching too much if you're going from about 3/8 full to about 7/8 full. You should only be increasing your volume by about 30% or so, in my understanding. I've found that stretching the milk that much typically means that you're allowing gasps of air instead of sips, and it will lead to a pillowy, bubbly foam cap instead of nice thick latex paint-like micro-foam. If you just do a slight stretch, just allowing a bit of air incorporation, you'll get less foam (for the latte), but your technique needs to be seeking the latex paint-like micro-foam. You also need enough room in the pitcher to swirl it around to make sure that you've incorporated all of the foam into the milk.

Also, 65C is WAY too far into the steaming process to bury the wand. The stretching process stops being effective at about 100F, or ~37C, which should be around when you submerge your wand and keep the milk swirling. Steaming the milk past 60C is also going to limit the sweetness of the milk, but that's not really what you're asking.

-Dave-
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calblacksmith
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Posted Tue Jul 31, 2012, 6:53am
Subject: Re: ARGH! I can't stop making capuccinos! (Milk frothing question)
 

Different strokes I suppose.
I never really have much of a definition between the "two phases" of steaming milk.
I just let it sip air until I get to almost the volume I want then I just stop lowering the  pitcher. I never submerge the wand, I just let the volume rise until it stops drawing air all on it's own, no big deal.

I am not clear of your question though, do you want thicker foam, better blended micro foam, do you want to need to use a spoon (in my view, the spoon shows lack of a proper method).

If you want thicker foam, suck in a little more air, thinner foam, less air. To get a cap of foam on a cap then pour slowly with a thick foam on your milk, the milk will pour out from under the cap of foam in the pitcher and then you get all the foam in a lump at the end of the pour. If you want art, use a thinner foam and pour a little quicker but not too fast so that you get more foam in the drink quicker but still have a thicker foam in the pitcher but not near as thick as for a cap.

 
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Eiron
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Posted Tue Jul 31, 2012, 8:19am
Subject: Re: ARGH! I can't stop making capuccinos! (Milk frothing question)
 

I agree with StereoHeathen and TheSunInsideYou, you're pulling in way too much air. I don't use a thermometer (I go by sound), but I've read to stop pulling in air at around 22C. My stainless milk jug is definitely not even "warm" when I stop pulling air, so I think the suggestion to stop at 37C would be the warmest I'd ever try with mine.

What I do is pull in only enough air to make the wand silent when it's below the surface (& I stop when it reaches a particular low rumble). But my machine is no great steamer, so someone with a more powerful steamer might not get the same sound variations I do.

 
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calblacksmith
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Posted Tue Jul 31, 2012, 8:40am
Subject: Re: ARGH! I can't stop making capuccinos! (Milk frothing question)
 

Even a slight amount of foam, if not well incorperated into the milk, will be a cap on the top of the drink. The foam can rise to the top even if it was well blended if you let it sit too long. I have never had the need to use a spoon, it is all about making the kind of foam you want and how you pour it. Even thick foam can be mixed into the milk for proper pouring.

I am not concerned about tradition etc and I do use a thermometer, just to stop the steaming at 140f as that is the temp I like. A meter will always be more accurate than your hand but it is what is important to you that counts.

Different machines even if they are the same make and mod, can steam different so it really is a process of learning what you want and how to get it on your particular machine. The less steam the machine makes, the harder it is to get what you want. The Sylvia I have is a PITA to steam with while my HX is a joy. YMMV!

 
In real life, my name is
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Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

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miched
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miched
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Posted Wed Aug 1, 2012, 7:49am
Subject: Re: ARGH! I can't stop making capuccinos! (Milk frothing question)
 

Hi!

I have found the best way for stretching the milk just enough is to chh chh chh chhh (sipping air) from the beginning temp of +-5deg C, to between 15 and 20 degC, (around 19 deg is my magic number) then sink the tip i.e. no more air into the milk. If you keep adding air, you'll get the light frothy foam - no good for latte art! It might be better to check the volume increase instead of the temp, but I'm still experimenting.

Hope this helps.

Mike

P.S. You may have to experiment a little with the lower fat milk, since it absorbs air more readily than full cream milk.
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Eiron
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Posted Wed Aug 1, 2012, 8:53am
Subject: Re: ARGH! I can't stop making capuccinos! (Milk frothing question)
 

FrankyD Said:

... I have a problem trying to steam milk too, and I'm not sure if it depends on the % milk fat or not. ...

Posted July 30, 2012 link

I've seen a definite difference in foaming depending on the amount of fat. I normally use whole milk in my latte, but when I "splurge" & use half-&-half I get much frothier foam during the initial air incorporation. This froth always mixes in well during the heating stage, so it's never a problem. But it is something I've noticed. I've also noticed that the steam wand cleans up much easier with higher-fat milk. Bonus! :-)

 
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qualin
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qualin
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Posted Wed Aug 1, 2012, 10:50pm
Subject: Re: ARGH! I can't stop making capuccinos! (Milk frothing question)
 

Thanks for the advice everyone. All of you have been an awesome help.

I'm still working on my technique, but I like a lot of your ideas. If I make some progress on this, I'll certainly keep all of you updated.

I have yet to experiment with 1% vs 2%... I personally like the taste of 2% milk better.

 
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