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How much additional water ends up in steamed milk?
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Jetzin
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Joined: 9 May 2014
Posts: 1
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri May 9, 2014, 8:10pm
Subject: How much additional water ends up in steamed milk?
 

Hi everyone,

A friend recently gave me her old, cheap quality, espresso machine. I learnt to make coffee on a commercial machine so this is a new experience for me and I have to say I wasn't expecting much! My hand-me-down machine makes surprisingly good espresso but very watery milk.

I measured how much water it added this morning. I started with 120 g of milk and by the time it reached the right temperature it weighed an extra 45 g. I measured in weight because the volume is obviously going to increase as the milk froths but additional weight would be from additional water.

I'm just curious as to how much water other machines add to milk while steaming. I don't have access to a commercial machine to test any more. It makes sense to me that some water would condense into the milk, even with the highest quality machines.

Has anyone weighed their milk before and after steaming? I'd particularly like to know the amount a commercial machine and a high-quality domestic machine adds.

Thanks,
Grace
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andys
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andys
Joined: 10 May 2003
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Location: NY
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Espresso: Speedster, Londinium 1
Grinder: EK-43,Robur, HG One, M3
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Roaster: PIDed Popper
Posted Sat May 10, 2014, 7:54am
Subject: Re: How much additional water ends up in steamed milk?
 

When I've measured it, the steamed milk gains 10-15% in weight compared to the original cold milk. Hopefully you are thoroughly purging your steam wand of condensate before heating your milk.

 
-AndyS
picture page:  http://flickr.com/photos/andy_s/sets/
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ajf
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Joined: 29 Apr 2014
Posts: 19
Location: Long Island
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Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
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Posted Wed May 14, 2014, 2:35pm
Subject: Re: How much additional water ends up in steamed milk?
 

I just tried it.  I started with 89g cold milk, and ended up with 113g superheated steamed milk, an increase of 27% which is about midway between your result and andys's.  However, I'm just starting out, and need to get familiar with the equipment.  I think I would have preferred about 15%, but I was following the instructions that came with the espresso machine.  Next time I won't steam as long, and hopefully the milk won't be quite as hot, and will be a bit thicker.

Alan
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
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Posted Wed May 14, 2014, 4:41pm
Subject: Re: How much additional water ends up in steamed milk?
 

ajf Said:

I just tried it.  I started with 89g cold milk, and ended up with 113g superheated steamed milk, an increase of 27% which is about midway between your result and andys's.  However, I'm just starting out, and need to get familiar with the equipment.  I think I would have preferred about 15%, but I was following the instructions that came with the espresso machine.  Next time I won't steam as long, and hopefully the milk won't be quite as hot, and will be a bit thicker.

Posted May 14, 2014 link

A latte's worth of milk which Andy with his Speedster and I with my M21 can steam in less than 10sec, will take you more than 40sec with your machine.  You may well be able to improve time and texture with practice, but no matter how good your technique your equipment's lack of steam power will limit your results.

It's a competition you can't tie, much less win.  Do the best you can with what you have.  

All steamed milk isn't equal -- even correctly steamed.  Tighter, thicker milk is for cappuccinos and macchiatos; looser, smoother milk for lattes and latte art; steamed, but basically untextured for "flat whites."  

Rich
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ajf
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Location: Long Island
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Posted Wed May 14, 2014, 7:04pm
Subject: Re: How much additional water ends up in steamed milk?
 

I don't doubt that my machine is primitive compared to yours, but it cost me less than $100 as opposed to $10,000 for yours.  (The asking price was $199.95, but there was 20% off all electrical apparatus, and an additional 40% off that particular model.)
I'm not interested in latte, but I quite like a cappuccino, and I think I can get much better results by steaming for 10 - 15 seconds, rather than the 25 seconds the instructions recommend.
I'm sorry, but I've already won the competition.  I can make coffee at home that tastes better to me than anything I have found in local coffee bars, even with the superheated milk.

Alan
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Eiron
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Eiron
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Posted Thu May 15, 2014, 8:18am
Subject: Re: How much additional water ends up in steamed milk?
 

Okay, the opportunity to gather data sucked me into this thread. ;-)

I (typically) brew a quad shot latte with whole milk. I have a Quick Mill thermoblock machine, & it takes me somewhere between 40-60 seconds to complete steaming. I do not purge before steaming.

Starting milk weight - 110g
Finished milk weight - 140g

I think you're looking at the values in the wrong way, & here's why:

Milk is approximately 87% water, so my 110g of milk already contains 96g of water.
Adding 30g of water raises the total percentage of water in my milk to ......

90%

Keep in mind that espresso itself can range from 85%-96% water, & that I add an equal amount (or less) of milk to my coffee. For your specific example (120g milk gaining 45g water), your milk percentage climbed from 87% water to 91% water. I don't know how much espresso you use, but it may be a bigger 'water variable' due to its own water content.

 
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boar_d_laze
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,259
Location: Monrovia, CA
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Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Thu May 15, 2014, 8:42am
Subject: Re: How much additional water ends up in steamed milk?
 

ajf Said:

I don't doubt that my machine is primitive compared to yours, but it cost me less than $100 as opposed to $10,000 for yours.  (The asking price was $199.95, but there was 20% off all electrical apparatus, and an additional 40% off that particular model.)

Posted May 14, 2014 link

Geeze, don't be so sensitive.  
  1. The gravamen of the remark wasn't directed to you but at Andy for supplying a standard of dryness which I believed to be unobtainable for you.  All I meant to tell you was to cut yourself some slack;
  2. Steam is steam.  Your machine isn't primitive, just (I would have thought) underpowered -- consequences of its thermoblock design; that's important because  
  3. Low power means running steam longer to get the same effect.  Running steam longer means a fast pressure drop in the boiler as steam is expelled (or lowering temperature in the thermoblock), dropping pressure means lowering steam temp, lowering temps mean more condensation in the arm, as well as faster phase change when the steam mixes with the milk.  Consequently, there's more water in the milk;
  4. My machine, a La Cimbali M21 ("Junior") DT/1 Casa is $3,000 new; not the $10,000 you fantasized.  On the other paw, Andy's Speedster is around $8,500, and his Strega is $2,000.  For all I know either or both may steam better than the Casa;
  5. Until you informed me otherwise, I would not have believed Krups XP52XX could have kept up with any of the three; because
  6. Equipment matters for some things.  Steaming is one of them.  The XP52 series uses a thermoblock instead of an actual boiler and thermoblocks, especially those small enough to fit inside espresso machines, are inherently weak steam producers.  

I'm not interested in latte, but I quite like a cappuccino, and I think I can get much better results by steaming for 10 - 15 seconds, rather than the 25 seconds the instructions recommend.

If you can make capp quality micro-foam from 89g of milk (~3oz) in 10sec with a Krups XP52:
  1. That's great! And
  2. You're the only one.  

I'm sorry, but I've already won the competition.

Good for you.  The great thing about winning coffee competitions is that whether or not there's a plaque or a ribbon, there's always a cup.

I can make coffee at home that tastes better to me than anything I have found in local coffee bars, even with the superheated milk.

Oh for Pete's sake.  My post was not meant as a criticism of you, but since you seem determined to take it that way and make a fight of it allow me the following observations:
  1. "Better than Starbucks" is a very low bar; and
  2. You've got piss-poor local coffee bars;

My sincere regrets for attempting to help you,
Rich
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ajf
Senior Member


Joined: 29 Apr 2014
Posts: 19
Location: Long Island
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Vario, Smart, Encore
Drip: Cuisinart
Roaster: Behmor 1600 +
Posted Thu May 15, 2014, 1:25pm
Subject: Re: How much additional water ends up in steamed milk?
 

I'm sorry you got so upset about my response.  Let's set the record straight.
Firstly, I am a beginner (especially with espresso), and as I said I need to get familiar with my equipment.  I can do experiments as well as the next person, and I have no problem with reporting the results, but when I say "I think I would have preferred", and "hopefully", I mean just that.  I am not stating it as a fact, just what I hope to achieve.
I didn't fantasize about the cost of your machine, I Googled it (but I missed the "junior").
I stand by my use of "primitive". The costs of our respective machines is a good indication as to the capability, and I am already beginning to understand some of the limitations of mine.
I repeated the experiment today with less milk, and although I got better results by reducing the time, I still got an increase in weight of ~27%.  However, the temperature of the milk was much lower (about 160 degrees) resulting in a more balanced cup of coffee.  As Eiron suggested, I think the actual percentage of water is largely irrelevant.
As for the quality of the local coffee bars, I completely agree with you :)

Alan
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andys
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andys
Joined: 10 May 2003
Posts: 856
Location: NY
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Speedster, Londinium 1
Grinder: EK-43,Robur, HG One, M3
Vac Pot: Yama
Drip: various
Roaster: PIDed Popper
Posted Thu May 15, 2014, 5:48pm
Subject: Re: How much additional water ends up in steamed milk?
 

ajf Said:

I repeated the experiment today with less milk, and although I got better results by reducing the time, I still got an increase in volume of ~27%.  However, the temperature of the milk was much lower (about 160 degrees) resulting in a more balanced cup of coffee.  As Eiron suggested, I think the actual percentage of water is largely irrelevant.

Posted May 15, 2014 link

My figures of 10-15% gain in mass for steamed milk were based on (1) purging the wand thoroughly beforehand and (2) heating the milk only to 140F-155F.

I suggest you trying steaming to a lower temperature, you might like the flavor better.

 
-AndyS
picture page:  http://flickr.com/photos/andy_s/sets/
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,259
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Thu May 15, 2014, 5:49pm
Subject: Re: How much additional water ends up in steamed milk?
 

Alan,

I misread the tone of your post and owe you an apology.  My bad.  Next time better.

Looking forward to becoming friends,
Rich
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