All you need to make a milk-based coffee at home is frothed milk and espresso. However, certain practices must be followed to ensure a good espresso-based beverage. To begin, the milk must be cold. Then, before steaming, ensure that the machine is set to the proper steam temperature.
In an ideal world, your espresso pull and milk steaming would finish simultaneously and then be combined immediately. That is why those who take their coffee seriously invest in dual boiler or heat exchange machines. With practice, you can make milk and espresso simultaneously, but the answer is a little more difficult with other machines.
There is a lot of misinformation out there about how to make a latte or cappuccino with your new machine properly. For example, some baristas prepare their beverages by brewing the shot first and then frothing the milk, whereas others prepare lattes in a glass cup by pouring espresso into the frothed milk.
We’ll go over why frothing milk before brewing espresso is better, so your machine lasts longer, and you get perfect cappuccinos and lattes every time.
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What Temperature Should Coffee Milk Be Heated To?
Most baristas heat the milk to 60 to 65 degrees Celsius (140-149 degrees Fahrenheit); extremely hot milk heat it to 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees F).
If your milk is overheated, it will undergo a transformation known as denaturing, which will be irreversible even if you cool it down again.
Furthermore, when whole milk is heated above 70 degrees, the lipids in it undergo a significant physical transformation.
To accurately gauge the temperature of your milk, wrap your dominant hand around the jug. On your palm, the milk should gradually warm up.
When you can’t hold the jug for three seconds, you’ve reached the proper temperature and should turn off your steam wand. When positioning your steam wand around the rim of the jug, think of it as a clock.
To use the jug, the spout should be at the 12 o’clock position, the handle at the 6 o’clock position, and the right side of the container at the 3 o’clock position (see illustration).
As a result, the steam wand should always be set to 1:30. A gap must also exist between the wand and the milk jug to allow the milk to spin and create the necessary whirlpool motion.
If you prefer your milk to be extra hot, steam it for an additional one to three seconds after the first one to three seconds.
It is possible to obtain a more accurate temperature reading by using a thermometer, but it is preferable to train your hand to detect the appropriate heat.
As previously stated, it is best to steam or froth your milk before brewing your espresso. Consider the following reasons why you should steam before brewing:
Making a latte faster by cooling the machine to brew after frothing than waiting for the machine to warm up after brewing.
The machine brews quickly; press the button and run hot water through the wand. The wand will quickly transition from producing steam to producing water.
You’re ready to brew when you have hot water rather than steam.
The machine and its components last longer when the brew temperature is lower than when the steam temperature increases.
This is common practice for many espresso machines to avoid burnt-out boilers and heating machines.
When you use a mid-range semi-automatic espresso machine for the first step, it maintains a consistent temperature while brewing.
Is it possible to heat milk by frothing it?
Yes, a milk frother heats the milk to 65 degrees Celsius. If you want, you can easily adjust the temperature settings; the purpose of heating milk is to aerate it and produce thicker foam.
Milk contains three essential nutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. These elements speed up the frothing of milk.
Cow’s milk contains two proteins: whey and casein. When you heat the milk, the proteins cause bubbles to form. As a result, more proteins result in a richer, frothier foam.
The terms “steamers” and “frothers” are used interchangeably in the culinary world. Essentially, a steamer only heats the milk, whereas a frother also aerates it; this is the primary difference.
In order to make a variety of coffee drinks, steamed milk should be mixed in with the other ingredients rather than sitting on top of the liquid.
Some electric steamers also froth milk, but the majority only produce tiny bubbles that are barely noticeable. If you intend to make a lot of barista-style coffee at home, you’ll need a good milk frother.
It takes a lot of practice to get a good foam. Even if you have perfected your frothing technique, your frothed milk may occasionally collapse.
This is because certain factors can cause the foam on your milk to collapse. Therefore, whole milk should be as fresh and cold as possible before frothing.
Glycerol accounts for about 4% of whole milk, and when the milk is fresh, the glycerol is too busy to obstruct foam formation.
However, if the milk is contaminated, free glycerol can clog the foaming process, causing the bubbles to burst. Furthermore, overheated milk can lose its foam faster than milk frothed at the proper temperature.
Steamed milk should be poured in the following manner:
- Tilt your cup to a 45-degree angle and pour the milk with the jug about 4 inches above the cup. Then, slowly pour, aiming for the deepest part of the cup, and move the cup around to mix around the crema.
- Stop pouring but keep the cup tilted when the rising liquid almost reaches the edge of the cup and is about two-thirds full.
- Bring the jug all the way down to the center of the espresso and start pouring again, but this time more quickly.
- Slow down your pour, raise your jug a little bit, and pour through, trying to keep everything as centered and symmetrical as possible as you get to this point.
- Maintain the level of the cup as it fills in order to prevent it from overflowing and to keep your design in place.
One piece of advice: when you lower your jug to start pouring the design, rest it on the edge of the cup. Maintaining your tilt level is accomplished by keeping your contact point in the same location throughout the pouring process.
In the following step, bring both hands together as if they were locked in place relative to one another.
Don’t worry about moving your jug around too much; instead, concentrate on the fundamentals of frothing and pouring.
Pouring becomes easier the more you practice it, and you’ll learn what works best for you and your coffee machine the more you practice it.
How Important Is Espresso Temperature?
Making an espresso entails far more than simply pressing a button and waiting for the machine to do its thing.
Your contribution can make or break your favorite beverage, and one thing you must do is keep the brewing temperature under control.
The temperature of espresso water should be between 90 and 96 degrees Celsius for optimal extraction (195-205 degrees F).
If you use hotter water than this, your coffee will taste burnt, and if you use cooler water, your coffee will have little flavor extracted from the coffee grinds, so use caution when you’re brewing coffee.
Many low-quality machines do not have adjustable temperature settings, but you can calibrate it if yours does.
Each machine has a unique calibration procedure, so make sure to follow the instructions in the manual carefully.
Once you’ve mastered your machine’s temperature settings, you can start dialing in the shot. To achieve the best espresso, the brewing criteria must be tweaked.
To begin, taste your espresso each time to see if it’s under, over, or perfectly extracted. Then, as needed, adjust the temperature until you achieve the most pleasing flavor.
You can use a thermofilter to accurately gauge the water temperature on the machine to check the temperature of your espresso.
For example, you may encounter a problem where the machine’s temperature is set to 97 degrees, but it is not the temperature at the group head, in which case the thermofilter comes in handy.
Certain fundamentals contribute to the delicious taste of your milk-based beverage, such as using cold milk only for frothing, which is better for your machine, and you milk-based coffee to froth or steam your milk before brewing espresso.
When milk becomes warm, the fat and proteins break down, making it more difficult to froth. Make sure your milk is frothed at the proper temperature to create a nice, long-lasting foam.
Additionally, the temperature of the espresso is critical; you want to keep it within a specific temperature range so that the coffee is neither overly nor under-extracted from the beans.
Adding rich foamy milk to a perfectly pulled shot of coffee at the proper temperature is a winning combination.
Experiment with your pouring technique as much as possible. Good jug control is essential for getting a nice sheen on your milk, and a professional design improves the quality of your beverage.