If you’re like me, you love the velvety foamy layer of milk created by an ingenious barista sitting on top of your $3 cappuccino. If you’re like my mom, you scoop it off and throw it away. If you’re more like me, read on.
Today I want to talk about how to froth milk properly. Now, I’m no expert, so I’m going to consult a few Web sites and see if there is any agreement among them. The goal? Tonight I will froth the perfect milk, make a cappuccino, and get back to studying Flash.
Frothing expert #1: Nicholas Webb, and his article Cappuccino Secrets: Creating the Perfect Foam
Let’s see, first Nicholas says to purge the steam wand and get out extra water by turning on the steam and letting it out into a towel. Easy right? Next we need to submerge the wand and turn the steam onto full power. Check. Now, point the wand off center, creating a “circulating vortex” of milk. Sounds complicated. Okay, this next step is my favorite. He says to lowe the pitcher until the tip of the wand is just below the surface of the milk until you hear “a hissing noise, similar to bacon frying.” Awesome. Maintain the hissing noise, and continue steaming until you reach 145 degrees Farenheit. Oh, I suppose we need a thermometer to do this right.
On to the next source!
Frothing expert #2: Jonna Vercellini, and the article How to Create the Perfect Cappuccino Foam: A Barista’s Guide to Home Coffee Brewing
Alright, we already know that we need a thermometer. This article also says straightaway that we’ll need a metal steaming pitcher. Check. Interestingly, Jonna also says that whole milk froths better than skim because it’s denser. I am forever loyal to skim milk, but this might be worth investigating. This article says to start with the tip of the steam wand just barely beneath the surface of the milk. Again, it says to hold the pitcher at a slight angle, then turn the steam on. You should hear a gurgling, hissing sound; continue until the milk reaches 100 degrees Farenheit, then lower the steam wand down and let the milk reach 160 degrees F.
These are very similar tips, but why the difference in temperature advice? Let’s find out when milk starts burning.
Frothing expert #3: Megan B. Wyatt, and the article How to Steam and Froth Milk: A Key Step to Creating a Coffeehouse-Style Beverage at Home
According to Megan’s article, milk should stay somewhere between 140 and 170 degrees Farenheit, but that milk is considered burnt at 180 degrees F. So I suppose our other two sources are right in their own ways – just don’t let the milk burn!
I hope this mini-how-to guide is helpful. I think tonight I’ll combine a few tips from them all – I want to create the bacon-frying sound from expert #1, make it hotter like expert #2, and keep it from burning with tips from expert #3. If you have your own frothing tips, or something to add, please leave a comment!