I'll freely admit that I'm mostly a 1.5oz espresso kind of guy. My Olympia Cremina lever fulfills that requirement admirably.
That said, visitors often request for a milk drink, and again, I freely admit that my drink building skills, including just plain milk steaming (forget Latte art!!) were woefully under-developed.
Yes, my technique was nothing to write home about. Then, I happened to catch a repost of an instructional link demonstrating proper steaming for my favorite, a WET microfoam. It further showed how, with soapy water, one could practice their latte art technique to their heart's content, without wasting milk.
Well, even with practice, i felt somewhat limited by my run of the mill generic pitcher. I had read a mention of the Toroid, so i obtained both the 12oz and 20oz sizes. *Both perhaps costing a wee bit more than other pitchers out there, but as was proven to me later, paid for themselves quickly, due to the lack of wasted milk.
BTW, if the name Espro sounds familiar, they manufacture the very popular Espro Tamper, that clicks to inform you that you've produced 30#'s of pressure.
The Good Stuff
I purchased my Toroids directly from Espro, (http://www.espro.ca/toroid.php) as I had several questions, which Chris answered promptly. Upon opening the nicely boxed pitchers, I noticed a circular indent inside, which I was told helps focus the "vortex," that swirling whirlpool like effect necessary to get the milk to the proper consistency.
From the get go, I was producing milk that had that wonderful shiny surface look, and poured like so smoothly.
Because I don't have as much time to work on the "Art Part" I'm still a work in progress! (no fault of the Toroids)
But even the shaky pours look enticing, due to the quality and rich look of the microfoam produced time after time.
To my eye, these pitchers are lovely, and deserve to be displayed with your gear.
A plus is the shape, especially for us lever owners. Machines like my Cremina do not allow much room for a bulky pitcher, and the Toroid's shape gives me enough room to easily hold the pitcher in the proper position.
EDIT (3-31-2010). For ME, proper position is pretty much straight up when stretching, maybe a tiny lean towards the wand.
The 2nd part (sinking the wand) works for me beautifully if I hold the pitcher pretty much level.
I now ENJOY steaming milk for my kid's hot chocolate, and look for any excuse to do so.
Just below is a link to watch a Toroid demonstration. As they say, "a picture's worth"....you know.
Putting this all in perspective, no one likes to steam milk, and have the results, more often than not be less than desired. Besides wasting milk (I use organic whole milk, it ain't cheap!) it really makes you look BAD in front of guests. LOL
OK seriously, I love when an item I purchase DOES WHAT IT SAYS IT CAN DO. I bet I've saved $20 in milk over the past few months, as well as enjoyed some AWESOME milk as companion to my home roasted (and Pro roasted) espresso.
Sure, my Cremina steams well, but I used it with a friend's Gaggia "Baby" and got equally fine results.
There ya go.