Steaming milk effectively to make amazing latte art
Many baristas find it difficult to produce good looking latte art. However the secret is not in the art itself but in the preparation process, In order to produce amazing latte art it is necessary to steam your milk correctly.
To be able to steam milk you require an espresso machine which has a pressurised boiler capable of producing steam. These machines have a valve that is opened and releases steam through a pipe usually referred to as the steam arm. Follow the steps below to produce high quality foamed milk:
1) Fill a milk pitcher with cold milk to just below the bottom of the nozzle/spout. You need to leave room to stretch the milk.
2) Purge your steam arm over the drip tray by turning it on full and blasting out the steam and then clean with a cloth.
3)Place the steam arm into the milk pitcher so that just the tip of the arm is submerged. Place the steam arm slightly off centre as this will help you to spin the milk.
4) Turn on the steam to full power and lower the pitcher down so the steam arm is almost at the surface of the milk. You need to add the desired amount of air to create foam which depends on what drink you are making. For example if you are making a cappuccino you will need more foam than for a flat white.
5) Once you have added the required amount of air, raise the jug so that the tip of the steam arm is submerged within the milk again. Angle the jug so that the steam arm is leant to one side of the jug. This will force the milk to start spinning and create a vortex in the centre of the jug. This spinning will break down the bubbles and create microfoam.
6) While continuing to heat the milk, place your hand at the bottom of the pitcher to gauge temperature. When it becomes uncomfortable to touch remove your hand and continue to steam for a further 3-5 seconds (or use a thermometer and stop at 62 degrees).
7) Once the milk reaches the required temperature turn off the steam and put down the milk pitcher.
8) Wipe the steam arm clean with your cloth and purge the steam arm again to remove any milk left inside it.
9) Pick up the milk pitcher and gently tap the bottom on the work surface/table to remove any remaining large bubbles. The swirl the milk to bring all the foam together.
10) The milk should now be completely flat with no big bubbles visible. You're ready to start making some amazing latte art!