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Can't create Microfoam
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Discussions > Espresso > Latte Art > Can't create...  
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Kitsch76
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Jun 2008
Posts: 2
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Jun 8, 2008, 2:45pm
Subject: Can't create Microfoam
 

Hello All,

So I just came across this site last week, and stayed up until 2 am reading as much as I could on preparing for Latte Art. And this weekend I've been drinking about, oh , like 4 Lattes a day practicing :)

I'm not even at the art stage, i'm still really trying to create the microfoam. Just can't do it. I have a Saeco Vienna Deluxe. I don't have a thermometer yet, but going on the feeling whereby I can't comfortably hold the stainless steel pitcher anymore (should get one though).

Basically I am looking for some guidance. I have gone from using the panarello (plastic sleeve), to ditching it, to putting it back on. Basically what I have found is that, to get significant volume without the panarello, I have to steam for close to a minute (and more), and by this point I think I have burnt the milk. It has very little flavour, and it is almost like water when I pour.

With the panarello on, I get a thicker foam relatively quickly, which I think I could work with to get some art going, but it is really too thick.

My question is, with my machine, is it possible to get microfoam without the panarello? Does it have enough power? Should I continue to practice with the panarello and then move to working without it?

Oh and about the steam. I find that when I turn on my machine and it reaches the right temperature, the steam is not instantly ready I need to purge water for about 10 seconds as the machine gets worked up and builds pressure (kinda sounds like milking a cow for the first little while). When the steam is finally there, I still see some droplets of water forming at the base, and it kinda sputters. Is this normal? How much water is too much water and is this a sign of something wrong with the machine?

Well that's all for now, maybe even too much for a first post :) But looking forward to any advice.

Thanx !
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Jeff_K
Senior Member
Jeff_K
Joined: 7 Jul 2005
Posts: 1,589
Location: Chicago
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: LaCimbali Junior D/1,...
Grinder: LaCimbali Junior, Rio...
Drip: Presto Scandinavian, Bodum...
Roaster: Hottop KN8828, Kitchen...
Posted Sun Jun 8, 2008, 4:17pm
Subject: Re: Can't create Microfoam
 

You might get better results with the wand left on, but usually they have a hole in the side of the wand which pulls air in to create foam although if not done right you will probably have big bubbles.  If there's a way to cover that hole, you could try and just surf the wand's tip at the surface of the milk until you have the right amount of foam and then sink it lower to swirl and incorporate everything until you get to the final temperature.  With practice you could keep the whirlpool going the entire time.  If you don't cover the hole, you'll surf the top of the hole at the surface of the milk and then sink it lower to cover the hole once you have the right amount of foam.  Have you tried anything like those two ideas?  It usually takes practice to get the hang of creating microfoam, but after that it doesn't seem so hard anymore.

Edit - welcome to CoffeeGeek!
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Beezer
Senior Member
Beezer
Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Posts: 456
Location: Fresno, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quickmill Anita
Grinder: La Cimbali Max Hybrid
Posted Mon Jun 9, 2008, 2:52pm
Subject: Re: Can't create Microfoam
 

"Turbo frother" devices like the Panarello wand make it almost impossible to create good microfoam.  However, if you remove the device completely, the wand will be too short.  The best solution is to remove the outer sleeve of the frother device and leave the inner part on the wand.  Then you have a wand long enough to froth with, but without the big soap bubble attachment.  

Check out this link for details:

Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

Also look at this thread for tips on proper frothing technique.

Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

As for your question about wet steam, it's natural to have some water condensation in the steam wand at first.  You just need to bleed it off before you start steaming your milk.  Your machine may also have wet steam, which isn't ideal but isn't the end of the world either.  You should be able to work around it with good technique.
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Kitsch76
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Jun 2008
Posts: 2
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Jun 9, 2008, 9:08pm
Subject: Re: Can't create Microfoam
 

Hi There,

Thanx for the replies !

Spresso Bean, I only just found out today that the hole on the panarello is the one close to the tip. I thought it was the microscopic one at the top of the panarello. So I will give it a go with that technique for the next little while.  Between with and without the panarello, at least with it, the drink is drinkable. Without, it is a watery tasteless mess.

My results so far with the panarello have been merengue type foam that when you go to pour it, it rests on top.

Beezer,  thanx for the videos. The Gaggia looks a lot more powerful than my machine. It looks almost like child's play to watch these guys work. Wonder how much easier it is with a pro machine :)  So , i think I'd classify my machine as producing wet steam.   I'll eventually give it another go without the panarello and follow the technique shown in the Gaggia video.


Thanx again

Kitsch
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Niels
Senior Member


Joined: 22 May 2012
Posts: 3
Location: Amsterdam
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Tue May 22, 2012, 10:13am
Subject: Re: Can't create Microfoam
 

Hey there,

It took me a while to understand the difference between good foam and microfoam, but thanks to this website I finally understand!!

Today I received the Gaggia Baby Twin (I bought a new one because my Francis Francis classis passed away) and I practiced some with whole milk. The first two cups of cappuccino had foam that was comparable to the Francis Francis machine (which was good, but that was all). What i used to do was: I filled my pitcher with 1/3 of cold whole milk and stick the steam wand into the milk (so that the little hole on the pannarello or other steam wand) would be surfing on top of the surface. The machine would do the rest; as the foam increased and the milk surface got up more and more, i pulled my pitcher a little more down so that the little hole would stay on the surface. But the effect was terrible: just ordinary good foam. Whenever I poured the milk into the cappuccino cup i noticed the foam didnt come with the milk... something had to be wrong... how could i ever make Bob Ross kind of trees in my capuccino's?

After 2 trials on this Gaggia Baby Twin with the same results... i tried Jeff_K on Mon Jun 9, 2008, 1:17am his advice and that was extremely useful for me;

I taped the hole with ordinary tape and made the wand's tip surf at the milk surface until the right amount of foam would be reached. Then I pulled my pitcher up, allowing the wand to sink into the milk.... meanwhile I made the milk swirl continuously so the foam and milk would mix... to my surprise I found out that it worked perfectly well!!! After the milk reached the right temperature I made the espresso and kept the milk swirling around like never before. I made my first Mircofoam thanks to Jeff_K's advice.

Next task: trees a la Bob Ross...
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civic4982
Senior Member


Joined: 17 Jun 2009
Posts: 7
Location: Houston, TX
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Fiorenzato T/80.A
Drip: Cuisinart DCC-2000
Posted Sun May 27, 2012, 7:15pm
Subject: Re: Can't create Microfoam
 

Glad to know that you've found something that works. I'm still working on my technique for consistency but hope to be where you are soon :D
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hoka
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Jun 2012
Posts: 2
Location: Russia
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Jun 3, 2012, 3:47am
Subject: Re: Can't create Microfoam
 

I tried to use the technique from the comments above - and it left me confused. My Gaggia New Baby Class has a wand like this - Click Here (www.gaggiaparts.com)
Manual sais it's panarello, but I see no hole on the side, the one you suggest covering or keeping level with the surface of the milk.

I am struggling to achieve microfoam  with this device and hoped covering the hole would help. But, alas, no hole...
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