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Hi again and welcome back. By now I’m sure you all have a good understanding of espresso, coffee knowledge as well as a few extra bits of technical details on what makes coffee amazing. We all love coffee but as we are all unique we like our coffee prepared in different ways. Some like it straight up black and others like it with milk.

Most of us love milk and were brought up on it, we put it on our cereal, we drink glasses of it and we love its smooth and silk like feel in a tasty flat white, but what does milk consist of?
Let’s take a look:
Water:                        90%
Fats:                           0% – 4%
Proteins:                   3%
Lactose/sugar:         3 – 5%

We generally like to use cows milk when making coffee and there are several varieties available today to suit individual diets. In the UK the following are available:
Blue top:        3.5-4% fat
Green top:     2% fat
Red top:        0% fat

When we add perfect microfoam milk to espresso it becomes an amazing sensory experience. However it’s purely up to the barista to achieve high quality milk and this takes time and skill to perfect. To create this high quality microfoam milk there are two stages to follow:

Stretching (Part 1): This is the sucking sound, which introduces air into our cold milk and will give the milk more volume and thickness.
Texturing (Part 2): This is the spinning whirlpool, which will mix the milk and foam together and creates lovely shiny milk.

When steaming, the barista will position the seam wand slightly off centre with the tip of the steam wand just under the surface of the milk. When the steam is turned on, they will drop the level of the jug slightly to introduce air, which will give the milk the desired thickness for the drink that is being prepared. Once the milk has reached the correct thickness, the barista will drop the steam wand slightly deeper to create a good spin. This will pull any small bubbles into the whirlpool, eventually breaking them up into a smooth microfoam. When milk reaches a temperature of around 60-65 degrees Celsius the natural sweetness really shines through. Take the milk beyond 70 and we risk a chance of burning those natural sugars, which will result in a burnt cooked taste.

There are so many different kinds of alternative milk options to buy nowadays but they all use essentially the same technique. No matter what milk you are using, always follow the above steps and you will have great milk every time.

Next month I will be moving away from the espresso topic and onto manual brew, V60 to be exact. Until then, enjoy practicing your steaming techniques.