It’s no secret that making the perfect coffee at home is largely down to the quality of the beans used but if your favourite brew is milk-based there are other factors which need to be considered to make the textures just right. Milk-based coffees such as lattes, flat whites, cappuccinos and mochas are hugely popular here in Australia and milk texturing can be a tough skill to perfect, as it requires just the right technique as well as a knowledge of coffee machines. What is the right steam wand pressure to use? How do you avoid getting burnt? How do you know exactly the right texture to strive for? In the below article we’ll offer some tips on correctly texturing milk every time:
Select Your Milk of Choice
This sounds like a very obvious first step, but different types of milk will react differently to heat. For example, soy and almond milk may be more difficult to texture than cows’ milk. Once you’ve chosen your milk of choice, measure out the correct amount in a steel jug.
Clean the Steam Wand
It’s super important top clean the steam wand every time you use it with a clean, damp cloth which is used only for the steam wand. A few bursts of steam (purging) will clear any condensation inside the wand also. This step of the process will prevent any unwanted taste affecting the milk.
Position the Steam Wand and Milk Jug
The steam wand should be positioned slightly towards you and directly in front of you rather than at an awkward angle. The jug of milk should be raised to meet the wand so that just the tip of the steam wand is in the milk. At this point, tilt the jug slightly to the side.
Time to Start Steaming
It’s now time to start the actual steaming part and pressure is very important at this stage. Depending on your machine, try using two turns of the steam tap or pulling the lever down twice. Hold the side of the steel jug to feel when it’s warming up.
Texturing the Milk
Correctly textured milk should be aerated and textured and will increase the overall volume of the milk in the jug. Aeration happens first and once the milk reaches body temperature (or 37 degrees Celsius), it’s time to start the texturing stage by lifting the jug around 1cm so the wand sits deeper in the milk creating a vortex. To start, it may make sense to use a thermometer to measure 37 degrees and over time you’ll learn what that temperature feels like.
Watch the temperature
When the temperature starts to rise, it may get uncomfortable to hold the jug so tapping it is advised instead. Once it gets too hot too even tap (typically this is around 60 degrees Celsius), turn off the steam.
The finishing touches
Place the milk jug down and tap and swirl it to remove any large air bubbles in the milk. The milk should be smooth and shiny. It’s now time to pour it over your espresso for the milk-based beverage of your choice! Finally clean the steam wand again to prevent milky residue building up inside and outside it.