Coffee & Tea 101 | How to Steam Milk with Microfoam
Microfoam is that velvety smooth, wet paint textured milk that is at the heart of latte art. While producing this milk is all about practice, practice, practice, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when steaming milk.
- Keep your steaming pitcher in the refrigerator or freezer so that you always start with a chilled pitcher
- Start with icy cold milk (about 34F degrees)
- Begin steaming by getting the milk to spin rapidly clockwise, then work the surface of the milk for about 15 - 20 seconds in one of the following ways:
- Standard Steam Wand: Bring the tip of the steam wand to the top, so that it just barely breaks the surface to suck in air and milk simultaneously
- Panarello Steam Wand: Submerge the wand so that the top of the milk and the air intake slot or hole are even, allowing milk and air to be drawn in evenly -- if you submerge it above the air intake, you'll just steam the milk; if you submerge it well below the intake, you'll end up with fluffy, bubbly foam
- Plunge the steam wand all the way into the milk and then roll the milk for the remainder of the steam
- Temperature-wise, your milk should measure between 140F - 170F degrees -- if it's too cold, it will be chalky; if it's too hot, it will be scalded
- Tap the pitcher on the counter to settle the milk and force any air bubbles to the top
- Prior to pouring, roll the milk slightly around the pitcher to incorporate the foam and the milk. The milk should have a shiny, glassy smooth surface that is free of any bubbles
- Pour to make your favorite latte art
If you're looking for some live-action guidance on this topic, check out our video on Milk Steaming Tips.
If you're looking for some advanced tips, check out Frothing Madness on the SCG blog.