Milk Texturing 101

If you have recently purchased a new machine, you may have some questions around how to use it.

You may look at the coffee you receive from your local café and wonder how exactly they make the milk to the nice consistency you are after for your favourite coffee, cappuccino, latte or long black. If you haven’t already been to a barista course or tried the wide range of coffees yourself, first we will explain the difference between the types of coffees you can make.

Some popular coffee types:

  1. Cappuccino – many persons favourite coffee type, this coffee comes with more foam on the top of your coffee leaving a smaller amount of milk at the bottom giving you a slightly stronger consistency of coffee after you get past the foam
  2. Latte – Similar to the cappuccino, this coffee also has foam on the top however the thickness of the foam is slightly less and coffee is generally more creamy. Due to the amount of foam on the top you can create some great looking late art, where the white milk and the foam create patterns in the top of your coffee
  3. Flat White – as it name suggests this coffee has a flat top, with almost next to none foam, it’s is the milkiest of all the coffee types
  4. Long Black – though not involving milk texturing, this coffee is also a popular choice. The typical long black is a standard cup three quarters full with a 30 ml shot of coffee poured into it.
  5. There are many other ways you can have your coffee, with single and double espresso shots alone, or machiatto with a dash of foam down the side.

It is best try a few different types of coffees to understand which is your personal favourite. Once you know what you are after, this will help your home coffee making process.

How to steam milk:

Each machine is different so start off by reading your manual closely. Time spent doing a home barista short course will enhance your enjoyment of espresso coffee making.

To steam milk you will need to fill the water reservoir and allow your espresso machine and portafilter handle to warm up to the appropriate brewing temperature. Remember to pre-heat your cups too.

Essential accessories for milk texturing include a selection of milk jugs, barista cloths, and a temperature guage (especially for those who are learning how to steam milk). Once you have prepared your machine and your work space, you are ready to start steaming the milk:

  1. Firstly, carefully release a little steam from the wand to remove condensed water from the arm.
  2. Select the correct size and shape stainless steel milk jug, and amount of cold milk for your coffee (eg two cappuccinos will require only 300mls of milk). The jug should be filled between a third and half way.
  3. Place the steam wand into the milk and turn on the steam. The position of the steam wand in the milk is important for creating particular drinks. For example:
  • > To create a thick cappuccino foam, keep the steam wand just under the milk surface, so you hear a gentle hissing sound.
  • > For a latte, start with the wand just below the milk surface; when the milk heats to 40 ºC, move the wand deeper into the milk for a thinner texture.
  • > For a flat white, you will not need to let in air for foam, so keep the wand low below the milk surface. If you do create some foam you can use a spoon to prohibit the foam and pour the milk only.NOTE: You should never heat milk over 70 °C degrees as it will burn
  1. Afterwards, position the steam wand over the tray, and release some steam to clear the wand. Wipe the steam arm clean with a soft damp barista cloth.
  2. Discard any unused milk.
  3. Pour your milk into your pre-prepared espresso shot immediately. If you are making enough steamed milk for two drinks you should pour the coffees which require the most foam first (such as cappuccino) as the foam will be the first part to pour out from the jug.

To further your education on coffee there are many barista courses available, and as you become more confident you can start pouring your milk to create latte art – practice makes perfect. If you would like help extracting the espresso, please see our blog here.