Milk Drinks

  • Miele CM5000 Series Review

    The Miele 5000 series seeks to pack the power and programmability of the 6000 series into a lower price point and smaller footprint. Does it succeed? Today we're taking a look at this interesting machine in a crew review!

    Appearance and Usability

    The Miele 5300 (and SCG Exclusive 5500) take the design aesthetic of the 6000 series as a guide. This means that the Miele "coffee box" look is present here as well. As part of the switch to the smaller case style, the 5300 and 5500 have dispensers on the outside of the case. These machine are also missing the light that is present on the 6000 machines. It's definitely a trade-off, and some will prefer the aesthetics of the 6000s. We like the way the 5000s look, and are especially enamored with our SCG exclusive. The color on the 5500 is really gorgeous and sets itself apart from the rest of the line.

    Usability on both machines is solid, with a similar interface to the 6000 series. Again the 5500 shines here, with its hot water spout and profiles for custom drinks. The case designs are good, though some with low cabinets may find accessing the water and bean hopper frustrating. The machines' compact size also results in smaller hoppers and tanks. We found this to be a worthwhile tradeoff though for anyone needing that smaller size. Cleaning and maintenance of these machines is as simple and menu driven as on its older siblings. All of this makes the 5000 series very user friendly and aesthetically pleasing. If you can, snag a 5500!

    Performance

    Performance wise, Mieles make great coffee. Heatup time is quick and the brews are good and strong. As we always say, you'll always get better coffee from a highly trained barista on a superauto. That aside, Mieles produce shots on par with machines from Jura and Philips-Saeco, the other two leaders on the market. The 5000 series machines are also great because they're giving you the same coffee that you'd get out of a 6000. That's not always true of the "compact" versions of larger machines, and deserves a callout.

    On the milk front, the 5000 series also offers the quality that the larger machines do. While we couldn't quite get latte art out of one of these machines, a truly experienced barista may be able to bridge that gap. The milk is also steamed quite fast, though your mileage may very with certain alternative milks.

    The number of drink options available is great across the board, and there's a notable difference here where it counts. For example, lattes and cappuccinos are more varied here than on some superautos, where just the volume of milk vs. coffee changes rather than milk texture. The Miele's "coffee" button is also better than on a lot of machines. Because superautos brew espresso and not drip coffee, you're never quite getting that with the coffee button on a machine like this. Instead, you're getting a lungo pulled shot. That means a shot that has extra water poured through it. It's kind of like an Americano but with water pulled through the coffee instead of added after brewing. With Miele's carafe mode, you can actually brew a whole pot of this drip-like brew. Other machines can brew single cups, but something about the ratios on Mieles make it a little closer to drip brewing.

    Conclusion

    If you have the budget and counter space, the 6000 Mieles are still a really great option. With that said, we think the 5000 line is here to stay, and they're fantastic machines if you need something more compact or affordable. Check out the 5500 here and the 5300 here!

  • Milk Drinks Galore!

    Last week we looked at a few different brew methods that might fit your tastes. This week we're following up with a few ways to enjoy one of our favorite methods, espresso! Plenty of people around the world love to drink espresso straight (and we do too), but it also makes a great pair with milk! Whether you're a whole milk drinker or prefer substitutes like soy and almond milk, espresso makes a great companion. The rich, chocolatey flavor notes of a good shot of espresso really shine with the creamy consistency of a milk beverage. So let's take a look at a few options!

    Latte

    The latte is one of the most iconic and classic milk drinks you can order. starting with a shot of espresso, a latte is simply steamed milk poured over the shot, with a little bit of foam on top! Latte's can be made with a variety of syrups and additives for a truly customizable, tasty treat. Many baristas will even create some latte art using the foam! Can also be enjoyed iced for a tasty Summer treat.

     

    The Cappuccino

    Cappuccinos are similar to lattes, but with more foam. Steaming milk for a cappuccino involves incorporating more air into the milk, thus making the beverage foamier overall. You may be surprised when you pick up a cappuccino from your local coffee shop if you're used to ordering them at a chain. A proper cappuccino will be much drier than a latte. As such, the cup will be much, much lighter in weight!

    Caffé Macchiato

    Your daily trips to chain coffee shops may have given you a false impression of what these little drinks really are. While some coffee shops simply call flavored lattes macchiatos, in reality, the real drink is a little different. A macchiato is a double shot of espresso topped with a dollop of foam. This tasty drink gets its name from the Italian word for "marked" or "stained." Caffé Macchiato literally translates to stained coffee. 

    Flat White

    A flat white is a similar drink to a latte. The main difference is the amount of microfoam and milk, which is lower than in a latte. This higher coffee to milk ratio leads to a richer, more espresso driven flavor. Instead of the espresso acting as a syrup for the milk, the milk just compliments the espresso flavor. Not as well suited for flavored syrups as a latte, this is a great beverage for espresso lovers wanting just a little extra creaminess.

    That should be enough to get you started ordering like a pro at your local roaster!

     

  • Latte Art University

    Latte Art UniversityCongratulations! On behalf of Seattle Coffee Gear and the faculty of the School Of Coffee Extraction, we are pleased to offer you admission to the Ph.D. program at Latte Art University.

    That's right folks! Gail is going to Latte Art University and you get go along for the ride. We teamed up with Max from Spotted Cow Coffee Company to bring to you a full week of Latte Art training! Max has been a barista with Spotted Cow for quite some time now, even venturing into the Barista Competition Circuit!

    In this week long course, Max and Gail will explore everything you need to know in order to produce excellent latte art. (Hint: It begins even before you take the milk out of the refrigerator!)

    Max will demonstrate how to produce some of the basic latte art shapes, including the heart and the rosetta! He will also be discussing the best alternative milks out there for latte art, as well as sharing some tips and tricks to producing great latte art on a single boiler machine!

    So grab your frothing pitchers and a bag of freshly roasted coffee and practice alongside Gail as she goes through the program here at Latte Art University.

    Subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don't miss a lesson! And as always, thanks for watching!

     

     

  • Ask Gail: Latte Art Using Milk Frothers?

    Latte ArtEvery once in awhile we like to let our inner Picasso out to play. It's fine, we all do it and there is nothing to be ashamed of! But the question remains, is it possible to create beautiful latte art using milk frothers?

    Well, unfortunately the short answer is no. While milk frothers like the Jura are excellent at providing you with no-fuss perfectly frothed milk for your espresso beverages, they just don't have the finesse needed for latte art foam.

    We asked Gail to give us a little explanation as to why these stand alone milk frothers won't give us the best results and she delivered! Watch the video below to see Gail attempt some latte art using a milk frother.

  • Brew Tips: How to Make a Cappuccino

    How to Make a CappuccinoIt’s that time again! Yep, Dori and Sarah are back to teach you how make another one of those delicious and fancy drinks you find in your local cafe. In this week’s installment they'll show how to make a cappuccino. One of the more common drinks, people often confuse cappuccinos with lattes. It is easy to see why, as they are pretty similar since they are both milk-based drinks with espresso. However, with a cappuccino, there is a third component included in the recipe that is not in a latte – foam!

    Thus, a cappuccino is a third part foam, a third part milk and a third part espresso.  Luckily this is pretty easy to remember, even for the math adverse like myself. Typically a cappuccino will have more foam and less milk than a latte and the entire drink will only be about six oz., so not that giant drink you may love and adore from some chain stores. In addition, some places will actually steam the a cappuccino a little cooler than some other drinks, so it is more like a drink you can chug. The reason for this is because is your milk is steamed at a cooler temperature, you can get more of the natural sweetness out of the milk and your drink will be sweeter. However, if you heat your milk past 140 degrees Fahrenheit the milk starts to get bitter.

    How to Make a Cappuccino

    1)   Clear the extra water out of the steam wand.

    2)   Follow our seven steps for frothing milk for a cappuccino when preparing your milk.

    3)   As you froth your milk, keep in mind that you should be expanding it quite a bit and incorporating in as much air as you can.

    4)   When you’re done frothing, tap the bottom of the pitcher on a table and swirl the milk around to get a nice, rich foam. We usually try to work in the little mound that forms on top of our milk to ensure our milk is creamy through out. However, if you like to keep the mound so you can eat the foam with a spoon, that’s perfectly fine too!

    5)   Don’t forget, if you like a cappuccino with more foam ask for a dry cappuccino the next time you are at your favorite café. You can also achieve this effect at home by letting your drink sit for a minute or two after you have made it and the milk will separate. If you want a creamy cappuccino, start drinking right away.

    Watch as Dori and Sarah show you how to make a cappuccino in just a few minutes! While it may seem like they are just making it look easy, once you have your technique down you’ll be making this drink in a snap as well!

  • Brew Tips: How to Make a Latte and a Mocha

    how to make a latte2Last week we gave you some tips on how to perfectly froth your milk for creating a latte or a cappuccino. Now we are going to expand on those skills a bit and show you how to make a latte and a mocha. Once again we used our trusty Nuova Simonelli Musica Espresso Machine with its super-charged frothing power to create these drinks.

    How to Make a Latte

    1) When making a latte you can use as much milk as you want. Generally you want to use more milk for a latte than you would use for making a cappuccino, about 8 oz. is a good amount.

    2) Once you have your milk, follow the same tips we used for frothing milk for a latte in our video last week.

    3) Since you are only making a little bit foam for your latte, make sure you submerge your steam arm fairly quickly to ensure you are just heating the milk and not creating bubbles.

    4) When your milk is hot, tap the pitcher and swirl the milk around the pitcher to get it mixed in. This time around you will be able to see the milk texture underneath, as the milk is not nearly as thick as when we were frothing it for a cappuccino. However, you can still create a rich milk by making sure any foam you have created is well-incorporated in to the milk. If you let it separate out too much, you’ll get that lighter milk texture and have thick foam on the top.

    5) Pour your frothed milk into a cup containing a shot (or two or three!) of espresso and you have created a latte.

    How to Make a Mocha

    1) Creating a mocha is very similar to creating a latte, as it is basically a latte with chocolate. As such, follow steps 1-4 in the latte recipe above to prepare the milk for your mocha.

    2) Before you add milk to your cup, mix your espresso shot with chocolate syrup (you can use any type of chocolate to create a mocha – white, dark, sugar-free, whatever you prefer). Stir the espresso and shot together with a spoon to make sure they are well combined. This makes creating the drink easier, especially if you want to attempt latte art, which we’ll save for another post.

    3) Pour in the milk with the espresso chocolate mixture, and enjoy.

    Follow along with Dori and Sarah as they make a latte and a mocha. Make sure to check back in next week to discover what other coffee concoctions you can make with your newfound skills.

    Brew Tips: How to Make a Latte or a Mocha

  • The Reluctant Barista: Milk Frothing Madness

    Milk Frothing TechniqueHow many how-to-froth-milk videos have you watched? They make it look so easy! While my espresso shots are really improving, I still have a hard time getting milk to the right consistency for a perfect latte. My lack of consistent consistency makes me a little grumpy...even mad. If frothing milk makes you grumpy too, then follow along as I try to de-mystify microfoam. It is time for FROTHING MADNESS!

    First things first, while you can use the words froth and foam interchangeably, what we are after is the ever elusive microfoam. The manner in which milk is heated produces different results. Microfoam is smooth and velvety with a texture almost like wet paint because very tiny bubbles are incorporated evenly throughout the liquid. The foam I most often produce is heated milk with a bubbly volcano of erupted meringue dolloped on top. This is not microfoam.

    The more you practice on one home espresso machine, the more you get to know the timing involved. This is one of my problems. I froth milk on different machines. Teri in customer service tried to console me. She said, “just when you thought you had steaming down on one machine, you try another machine and it steams totally different! ...or someone changes your steam tip from a two-hole to a four-hole!” (Which totally happens around here but probably doesn’t happen at your house.)

    You are probably familiar with the basics of milk frothing:

    • Start with a chilled stainless steel milk frothing pitcher and cold milk.
    • Submerge the steam wand, start to froth, then lower the pitcher until just the steam tip is submerged. The milk should move in a circular pattern.
    • Plunge the wand lower into the pitcher and continue to roll the milk.
    • Stop at your desired temperature.

    While this sounds well and good, let’s explore how this works in real-life situations with three very different home espresso machines. Armed with some additional tricks from my barista friends, we can learn together!

    Rocket EvoluzioneRocket Giotto Evoluzione - A heat exchanger espresso machine with a large 60oz boiler

    Espresso machine repair tech, Bryan, gave me some great advice. First, whole milk froths best. Second, on a larger espresso machine like this one, plunge the wand a few seconds sooner than you think it will take. It only took 35 seconds to froth 6 ounces of milk to 165F. I found this out the hard way because at 40 seconds it was up to 170F and the milk smelled scalded. Because it happens so fast, it is hard to make adjustments. I grabbed a gallon of milk and kept trying until I got it just right.

    Breville InfuserBreville Infuser - A home espresso machine with a thermoblock

    Matthew Hodson, a Seattle-area professional barista, shared this via Twitter “Experiment to find the spot where the milk and foam spin in a whirlpool and integrate. Only aerate briefly (count 1,2,3 quickly) and then spend the rest of the time integrating with the whirlpool.” It took 1:15 to get 6 ounces of milk to 165F. This was enough time to experiment with different adjustments. With some extra time and careful attention spent tilting and pivoting the frothing pitcher around the steam wand, this technique produced good results.

    Saeco Via VeneziaSaeco Via Venezia - A single boiler with less than 8oz capacity

    To get quality milk frothing from a smaller espresso machine requires every trick in the book. Make sure the espresso machine is on and pre-heated. Clear the steam wand (or in this case the panarello) into the drip tray until it is all steam with no water. Note where the air intake hole is on the panarello sleeve and keep it even with the level of the milk in the pitcher, not above or below. Froth one drink at a time, in this case 6 ounces took 1 minute to steam but was still very bubbly.

    Lastly, Miranda in customer service told me you can try to “fix” milk frothing madness by softly tapping the frothing pitcher on the counter and swirling it in a circle repeatedly to try to eliminate big bubbles and incorporate the little bubbles back into the mix. Don’t try to re-heat or re-froth the milk. When all else fails keep these two important adages in mind,
    1) Don’t cry over spilt milk
    2) Tis a lesson you should heed, If at first you don't succeed, Try try again.

    Rocket Espresso Steam Tips

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