How to Steam Milk Like a Barista?
Picture your favourite cup of latte or cappuccino – Delicious. Rich. Velvety.
Now think back to what you make at home.
Is something missing? The difference might just be in the milk that you use.
Most cafes use steamed milk - rich and creamy, the perfect combination with a shot of espresso. With the right equipment and know-how, anybody can make that perfect cup of coffee right in the comfort of their home.
Now you might ask, what’s the difference? Why would using steamed milk make coffee taste so much better? The answer in short, is micro-foam.
When you steam milk, you develop its texture and flavour. The process of steaming milk involves adding heated air into the milk, introducing small bubbles called micro-foam that creates the creamy texture that we all love and desire.
Steaming The Milk
The best way to steam milk is by using a steam wand on your coffee machine. A number of coffee machines in Nespresso’s range offer this feature, including the Creatista Plus, which has a fully automatic steam wand.
With the steam wand you can make the perfect cup of milk. With some practise you can even use it to create latte art!
- 1. Choose your milk
The type of milk affects the taste and texture of the final drink. Whole milk typically works better, with the right balance of fat and proteins to make a thick, smooth and creamy drink. Some great dairy alternatives include Almond milk, Oat milk, Soy milk and Macadamia milk.
- 2. Purge the steam wand
It is important to make sure that there’s no water in the pipe. Remove the excess water that may have built up in your steam wand.
- 3. Preparing your milk jug
Make sure that there is plenty of room in your milk jug (or cup) for the milk to expand.
- 4. Inserting the steam wand
Start off by partially submerging the tip of the steam wand, keeping it about half-way between the center and the side of the milk jug. This position will help to keep the milk evenly heated by allowing it to spin inside the milk jug.
- 5. Stretching the milk
Next, turn on the steam wand. The moment steam starts entering the milk, slowly begin lowering the pitcher until you hear a quiet hissing sound for just a few seconds. This is the sound of air entering the milk – but be careful not to lower the jug too much, or air will blast and splatter the milk.
- 6. Submerge the wand back into the milk
Now that air has been introduced into the milk, submerging the wand helps us heat the milk evenly by creating a vortex.
- 7. Remove the steam wand
Once the milk jug is hot to the touch, turn off the steam and remove the steam wand from the milk. Make sure to wipe and purge the steam wand. If there are any larger bubbles in the milk, a few taps against the counter should get rid of them.
- 8. And you’re done! There you have it – pour your steamed milk into your drink of choice! You can also enjoy your coffee with some latte art with enough time and practice!
Frothing vs Steaming Milk?
But what’s the difference between frothing & and steaming milk? Although many people refer to the terms steaming & frothing interchangeably, they actually refer to 2 different ways of preparing milk.
Steaming milk refers to the heating process of the milk, with the introduction of micro-foam. Steamed milk is always hot, and delicately aerated with micro-foam.
Frothing milk on the other hand, refers to the aeration process of introducing air bubbles to create foam or froth. Frothed milk can be hot or cold, and typically involves much bigger bubbles and a larger amount of foam/froth.
Steam Wand Alternatives
If you’re looking for alternatives to using a steam wand to give your milk a bit of texture, we can recommend the following methods.
- 1. Electric Milk Frother / Hand-held Whisk
This method offers the most basic approach to frothing. They are essentially hand-held whiskers to introduce air into the milk. You will need to heat the milk separately, which could be time-consuming.
- 2. Jug Milk Frothers
Jug frothers are a convenient alternative that allows you to heat and froth your milk at the same time. Our pick is the Nespresso Aeroccino 3. It allows you to create creamy hot or cold milk froth in a little over a minute. This milk frother is easy to clean, simple to use and produces consistent, delicious foam.
Love to get started on creating a cup of smooth and creamy milk coffee?