Has the issue of pitcher shape ever been settled? What is the best shape? Flat, bell, tapered? I have a medium and large bell, small flat sided. At times, early in the morning when no one is looking, I violate the religion and steam the milk right in my large round mug. It seems to work pretty well, too. Although I thought the bell shape was supposed to be the best, I can't tell from my stuff. What is the data on this? firstname.lastname@example.org
For micro/latte art foaming, the bell shaped pitcher is said to be somewhat hopeless, since apparently it's much harder to make the milk roil or spin in one. When Intelligentsia was upgrading their espresso making, they ended up with a whole shelf full of them. Doug was trying to give them away, unsuccessfully, at the espresso-in. Maybe his pitch needed some help; "Want a frothing pitcher? These don't work."
Straight sided, tapered ones with a long narrow spout are the preferred shape. 1st Line sells them, including a 12 ounce one perfect for frothing 4 ounce cappa portions.
Posted Sun Apr 27, 2003, 8:59am Subject: Re: pitcher shape
I found this one which has been pretty much perfect for my needs. It's made by Copco, has a pouring spout, 12oz (perfect for a single cap) and is excellent quality. The inside of the pitcher is ball-burnished which seems to produce better microfoam. Perhaps the slightly rough surface churns the milk more?
I've read several CoffeeGeeks espousing the virtues of a 12oz pitcher, yet I've never been able to work with a smaller pitcher without blowing up and over the sides. I've only gotten good microfoam with lots and lots of steam pressure. A fair amount of timing is needed with Silvia to get good steam pressure (my only disappointment with her performance). Nine ounces in a 20oz pitcher seems to be a "sweet spot." Of course, this results in too much for a single, so I dump the remainder in my kids' whole milk jug (don't tell them ;-).
Now my question: Are you choking back the steam to work with such a small amount, and still getting microfoam?
All of our pitchers are straight sided. I think this shape works to our advantage when I need to do hands free steaming (more on that later)...
Different jobs, different pitchers is our rule. We have a 6 ounce, 12 ounce and 20 ounce. I just ordered a 33 ounce for making cappuccinos in groups. Our 20 ounce runs dry way too quickly!!
Today I built 13 cappuccinos in about 25 minutes, and the slowest part of the process was steaming the milk 16 ounces at a time (in the 20 ounce pitcher).
Hands free steaming... Fortunately, the steam wand of our Expobar permits one to set the pitcher on the drip tray and let 'er rip with the wand down the edge of the pitcher. Keeps the milk rolling well till it reaches temp. It would not make good latte art, but it makes great hot milk for capps or lattes. The wand reaches to within an inch of the bottom of the pitcher while it sits on the tray.
This leaves my hands free to pull shots, and grind and pack more coffee (takes a bit of time to steam that much milk).
I try to match the the size of the pitcher to the job...it is useless for me to try to steam 4 ounces in a 12 ounce pitcher. It just ends up on the counter and my shirt etc.
It must be just plain ol' luck cuz I really suck at most other things.....but I get great m-foam from Ms. Silvia.....always using 4oz. of skim in a 12oz. pitcher.
- I flick on the steam switch while pouring the shot. - Wait 50-55 sec. and start drying the steam (usually 2-3 blasts) - I insert the tip just below the milk line, about 1/2" from the side of the pitcher and tip the pitcher about 20 degrees off vertical (and towards the wand) - I slowly open the valve and within a few seconds after I get that great tumbling roll going, open it all the way. - Volume doubles in about 10-12 seconds. - I drop the tip alomost to the bottom in the center and swirl the container clockwise until it is too hot to touch (about 5-8 more seconds) - Great m-foam....no milk. Never had any spatter.
Now course with LJ's Expobar....well he can paint his walls w/ 4oz. of milk.
Hi R... I have painted a counter or two, the wall, my Rocky, the mixer, my glasses (your turn to select items)...
A really nice thing about the wand setup on the machine is in a crowd situation, we can steam 28-30 ounces of milk mix at a time, and we don't run out of steam!! (Just acquired a 33 ounce pitcher)
The steam wand reaches to within about 3/4 inch of the drip tray, so I can just stick the wand in the pitcher, set the pitcher on the drip tray and ease the steam up till it is rolling really nicely and let it heat till done. It doesn't increase the volume of the milk like micro-foaming technique does, and makes a nice, rich milk, and leaves my hands free to pull shots.
I've managed microfoam with 4 ounces on a Cimbali -- steaming time less than 10 seconds. This may not be possible with the Silvia if the steam outlet is the wrong shape, but here's what to do, maybe it'll work:
Run steam till it's dry. Turn off the steam. Put the tip to the BOTTOM of the pitcher. Turn on the steam full blast. Raise the tip carefully until you get the sucking/tearing noise and a swirl. Don't work to hard to increase the volume, it's not a requirement. Lower the tip as soon as the the pitcher gets warm, and stop as soon as it's nearly to hot to touch.
If you do this a few times, you'll get used to the faster pace, and the thing will become second nature.
Are you saying that a large machine renders all differences in pitcher shape and size irrelevant? My follow-up question was regarding preparing single servings. With commericial machines, I imagine that isn't possible. Most cafés seem to use a 32oz pitcher and just add milk to keep it half full, yuck. All steaming adds a little water. As you might have guessed, there are no serious cafés in our area (pointers welcome).
FWIW, your professional viewpoints are relevant... and certainly interesting to those of us who don't have the chance to play with "the big boys." ;-)
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