One of the most hotly debated subjects on the internet is the best way to froth your milk for the perfect Cappuccino – you can lose days checking out all of the sometimes confusing advice. So we’ve boiled it all down into a few helpful hints to get you started on your journey through the deep dark secrets of the barista world.
Firstly, for a perfect cappuccino you are not looking for frothy milk – you are actually seeking the holy grail that is “microfoam”. This is a pourable, virtually liquid foam that has a sweet and rich taste, an almost sauce-like consistency and adds a velvety texture to your drinks. If the foam is too thick, like a meringue, you will have lost the flavour and appearance that you are seeking. When looking at microfoam in the jug it almost doesn’t look like foam, as the bubbles are so small and are throughout the milk, not just sitting a layer on the top.
It can take a lot of time and practice to perfect this art as you need to get to know your machine and your ingredients, as not all milk behaves the same, so patience is a must! For a Cappuccino or a Macchiato you need microfoam, for a Latte less so – as this is warmed milk with a light frothed layer on the top. (Often a bad Cappuccino bears more resemblance to a Latte than its intended outcome).
There are a number of different methods for frothing your milk, depending on your tastes, time, inclination and budget – from fully manual, using the steam wand on a cappuccino machine, automatic gadgets like an electric milk frother, right through to top of the range coffee machines that take all the guesswork out for you – we will help you find the machine and method that is right for you.
Using a steam wand on a coffee machine
- Choosing your milk: the fresher the better, any type of milk can be frothed – everything from skimmed up to full fat. The higher the fat content, the sweeter the final result and straight out of the fridge works best.
- Get organised: add your milk to the stainless steel jug – less than half full, then add your thermometer probe. Warm up the espresso machine.
- Get frothing: imagine that the depth of milk in the jug has 3 layers, top, middle & bottom, when steaming you can tell which layer the end of the wand is in by the noise it makes. Top – bubbling/gurgling down into deeper sucking/tearing noise; middle – quietens down to a deep rumble; bottom – a really lour roaring or squealing. During frothing the optimum level for the end of your steam wand is the upper middle – so you hear an occasional sucking noise.
- Experiment with the position and angle of the steam wand – you want to create a swirling vortex that causes the warmed milk to fall back in on itself
- As you steam, keep an eye on the type of bubbles being created – if they are big and stay big, lower the wand deeper into the milk, to keep your milk moving you may need to adjust the wand up or down as the milk expands, or stretches.
- When the milk is around double the volume that you started with, the temperature should be between 37 to 65°C. You want to take this up to just under 70°C – but not over, as this will scald the milk and destroy all those bubbles that you have worked so hard to create!
- Can I drink it yet? Yes! Unless you want to try a little Latte Art – in which case leave it to stand for 10-20 seconds and it will firm up slightly – but be careful, leave it too long and it will start to separate out into a thick froth floating on top of hot milk.
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These free-standing self-contained electric units are great for those who don’t have the time to create their own microfoam, or in partnership with many Pod compatible coffee machines, for when you just fancy a change. Super simple to use, simply put cold milk into the chamber (taking care not to overfill beyond the internal markings) and push a button – then sit back and let the frother do all the work for you. A great add on if you make your espresso’s in a stovetop Bialetti coffee pot or a Nespresso machine.
Resembling a cafetiere, these jugs have cleverly designed mesh plungers to froth up your warmed milk. Warm the milk in the jug, or place ready warmed milk into the jug (depending on the model), then repeatedly and rapidly plunge and lift the handle on the lid – you will feel the texture of the milk change as you do this. This will take up to 30 seconds of vigorous motion to achieve a frothy result.
These mini electric hand held frothers are battery powered and are great when you want an occasional treat – they froth hot or cold milk so they are great for milkshakes too! Simply place in the milk (warm or cold) and press the button, keep whisking until you have the froth you desire.
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For those who love a great coffee, but want to convenience if it all being handled efficiently with no interference, we have a range of machines that take your coffee beans in at the top of the machine, and with only a few buttons pressed, can deliver you a perfect, barista-style cappuccino into your waiting cup in mere moments.