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How to Steam Milk

Learn how to steam milk for latte art in this Howcast video.


So, how to steam milk.

It's important to realize, first of all, that you don't steam milk any differently for latte art than you would to make a really good beverage. Again, I'm not a latte artist, I'm a barista. So, our predominant focus and our number one goal here is to make a delicious drink for our customer. So, you could view this as how to properly steam milk, period, instead of for latte art.

First thing you want to do is to get some delicious, cold milk right out of the refrigerator, as cold as you can get it without it having been frozen. And you want to pour to just under the spout in the pitcher you're using. If you find that you have a lot of milk left over after a latte art pour, then you want to use less milk next time. Keeping your waste down is a really important step. So, if you find yourself having to pour out milk in the beginning before you pour or you have a lot of milk waste afterwards, that's a cue for you just to use less in the first place. So, for me, for the cups we're using, I know I need to use milk that is just under the spout here. It's about six ounces of milk, and that's what we're going to wind up with at the end here. It's a six ounce beverage. All right, so now that we have our milk in our pitcher, I'm going to throw this guy back in the refrigerator to keep it cold. And then I'd bring it over to the espresso machine.

So, the first thing that we're gong to do is purge the wand of any condensation that's built up before we got here. So, get all that water out. And you can do that into a rag if you don't want to get yourself all wet. Then I'm going to position the steam wand in the pitcher just slightly off-center so that it'll push the milk in a whirlpool in the center of the pitcher. What this is going to do is help the larger bubbles to break down and it'll give you control over the aeration process. Aeration is adding air to the milk to create the foam we're looking for. So, I'm going to turn the wand all the way on and I'm only going to push air into the milk for the first couple seconds of this heating process, about until a hundred degrees. That sound should sound like paper tearing or like a chirping sound, and not like bubbles being blown in. That means you're aerating finely enough to get very finely textured milk.

So, it looks like this. Turn the steam wand on. There's that sound. Now, I'm going to stop. And then when the milk is too hot to touch, we're going to turn the steam wand off. First thing we do after we're finished steaming is wipe the wand of any milk. Purge milk out of the steam wand. And then we can look at our milk. Once we're here, we can pop out any visible bubbles by giving it a tap on the counter. And then giving it a swirl to polish up the surface.

Now, the goal here is to wind up with milk that looks like wet paint or marshmallow fluff. If you can see any visible bubbles in the milk, you need to start over because it's not quite as good as we want it to be. The thing we're looking for here is called microfoam, which means it's a very thick layer of gooey looking foam that's going to pour really nicely. So, it should look like this really finely textured, sort of gooey thing.

And that's how you properly texture milk.

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