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How to Steam Milk with an Espresso Machine

Learn how to steam milk with an espresso machine from the experts at Third Rail Coffee in this Howcast video.


My name is Mike Jones, and I'm a barista at Third Rail Coffee right by Washington Square Park in New York City. I'm going to teach you some basic coffee-making skills.

Alright, I'm going to show you how to steam milk with an espresso machine. The wonderful thing about espresso is that besides just a straight shot and an Americano, there's a multitude of milk drinks you can make. But first you have to know how to steam it right, which is a little bit tricky. So this is the steam wand, and this turns it on. Some machines will have a button that you push, or a level that you pull, this one is a knob that rotates. You want to start out with high quality whole milk that's cold as well as a pitcher that's also cold. So we have that in there. Now there's a few motions that you're going to want to go through when doing this. The first is to submerge the tip of the steam wand just below the surface of the milk. Start off with the pitcher straight up, and then angle it, this way when you turn it on you'll create a whirlpool. The first thing you do when you turn it on is let a little bit of air in, but you only want to do this for a few seconds, otherwise you'll end up scorching the milk. Once you've let the air in, you sink the tip of the wand in and just let it whirlpool until it gets to the correct temperature. So now I'm going to steam this and show you how it should look. The first thing you always want to do is purge. There can be buildup of milk or water in the tip and you don't want that going into the milk. Alright, so again, I'm just going to let some air in. It's going to make a slight hissing sound, and then I'm going to make a whirlpool. Then again, always purge afterwards to get that milk out of there. So once you've steamed it, you can give it a couple knocks. You'll see that there's just a few bubbles in there. And then swirl it around to incorporate all that foam you just made. You'll see it's nice and glossy. This is called micro foam. If you see too many spidery bubbles, that means that you've either let too much air in, or not enough. Alright, that's perfect. And that's how you steam milk.

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