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Microfoam: 2 hole or 4 hole?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Microfoam: 2...  
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shnxx
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shnxx
Joined: 3 Jul 2009
Posts: 128
Location: Pasadena
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Nov 6, 2013, 3:15am
Subject: Microfoam: 2 hole or 4 hole?
 

I used to get great microfoam using a SBDU Gaggia.
Now that I have a much better machine (Pasquini Livia 90), I'm struggling to get any kind of microfoam.
The machine steams strong enough it seems so either something is wrong with my technique or something is wrong with the various parts of the setup (steam tip, pitcher size, fat content in milk, temperature of pitcher, leak somewhere on the steam arm, etc).

So I have been experimenting with small 2-hole, regular 2-hole, 4-hole and teflon turbo frother.
It seems like 4 hole can steam milk within seconds (maybe like 5 seconds), 2 hole can do it in maybe around 15 seconds, small 2 hole more than 30 seconds and turbo frother... well nobody should be using that.

So which can give the best result for you guys?

I'm currently using a Europa 12 oz steaming pitcher but it seems too small for a HX machine so I just ordered a cheap 20 oz pitcher.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,950
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
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Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
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Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
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Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Wed Nov 6, 2013, 3:47am
Subject: Re: Microfoam: 2 hole or 4 hole?
 

With more power, you need to do things differently,
Starter machines don't have much power and you need to jump through hoops to get results. With more power, try going straight into whirlpool and lightly allow air into the steam stream and concentrate on a strong whirlpool. I find I get better blending and a smoother texture like that.

For me, it isn't so much the number of holes but rather the angle they are on. Wide angles tend to produce less whirlpool while narrow angles make it easier to get the milk moving.

That is what works for me anyway.

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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Iluvdabean
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Iluvdabean
Joined: 7 Mar 2005
Posts: 1,282
Location: Kentucky
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra/Gaggia...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso/K-A Pro...
Drip: Bonavita BV 1800 TH
Roaster: Nesco 1010/Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Nov 6, 2013, 4:44am
Subject: Re: Microfoam: 2 hole or 4 hole?
 

I have good pitchers,I use whole milk,tip has two holes,I leave pitchers at room temperature, only fill 2/3 to half.
I put milk in,place tip on surface of milk to create ripping paper type sound then eventually move slightly below surface . I vary it between straight
in and at an angle create beautiful textured milk time after time,its something I never think about. I can actually see the milk
in a fast vortex whirlpool as I am working it. But Ive been making only Lattes for six years,5 to 6 16 oz drinks a day
for myself and family.
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Shawn12
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Shawn12
Joined: 19 Oct 2012
Posts: 72
Location: Barrie,ON, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera BZ07
Grinder: Vario/Virtuoso...
Vac Pot: Yama 5/Balancing Siphon
Drip: Brazen
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Nov 6, 2013, 6:56am
Subject: Re: Microfoam: 2 hole or 4 hole?
 

Iluvdabean Said:

I have good pitchers,I use whole milk,tip has two holes,I leave pitchers at room temperature, only fill 2/3 to half.
I put milk in,place tip on surface of milk to create ripping paper type sound then eventually move slightly below surface . I vary it between straight
in and at an angle create beautiful textured milk time after time,its something I never think about. I can actually see the milk
in a fast vortex whirlpool as I am working it. But Ive been making only Lattes for six years,5 to 6 16 oz drinks a day
for myself and family.

Posted November 6, 2013 link

My exact process as well. Except I have have moved to 2% milk. Just to save the waist line a little :-)

My wife takes a shot of vanilla in her latte. I add the shot to the milk prior to steaming. No idea the chemical reaction at work but for some reason it helps with creating the proper texture.
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,226
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Wed Nov 6, 2013, 7:53am
Subject: Re: Microfoam: 2 hole or 4 hole?
 

I know exactly where your coming from.  I was there two years ago, when I went from a Silvia to a Duetto. For a few months, it was like...wtf?...how come I was able to make better microfoam on the Silvia?  I didn't get it for a while.  Also, like you, I use Motta Europas.  I use them exclusively.  I own one 35cL, three 50cL and three 75cL pitchers.  I sat down to my PC this am after making myself a cappuccino with fantastic microfoam using the 35cl Europa (this is the one you have)...so it can be done for sure, and there's no need to waste money on a larger cheap-o pitcher (unless you already wanted it).

As Wayne, said, it's all in your technique, and not until you've worked your a$$ off trying to correct your mistakes, do you blame the milk.  If your machine is putting out pressurized steam then there's no need to look further there either (and it sounds like it is).

My advice is to start with the tip that gives you the most time to interact with the milk...I think you said it saw the small 2-hole tip. Make sure it's under the surface before opening the valve. Get your milk going in a vortex and then lower the pitcher slowly, just until you hear little whispers, not big huge chuggas and definitely not making large bubbles.  When either the pitcher wall no longer feels cold or the thermometer reads about 90F (depending on which technique you like), stop lowering the pitcher.  If necessary to stop further air introduction, raise it slightly even, but don't lose that vortex in the process (like Wayne said, that's the thing to focus most on).  Stop frothing as soon as either the pitcher wall begins to feel hot or the thermometer reads about 135-140F.  Swirl the pitcher on the counter for 20 or 30 seconds and then pour.

As you get comfortable with this tip, move to one of the tips that reduces the amount of time you have to stand there frothing (if desired).  When going from a 2-hole to another 2-hole, you probably won't have to change your technique much, if at all...but when going from a 2-hole to a 4-hole, there is likely to be a needed change in pitcher height and/or tilt.

I fill my pitchers to about 1/8" - 1/4" below the bottom of the pouring spout, and select which one I use depending on how much milk I need.

Hang in there!  Having done it on your Gaggia, I know you can do it on your Livia, it's just a matter of practice and adjusting to the new dynamics.  

...and here's the funny part...once you get used to it and have it down pat, you won't be able to froth on the Gaggia anymore (at least not without a little practice).

OK, off to make another one!  I hope this helps you...

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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jwoodyu
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jwoodyu
Joined: 31 Dec 2010
Posts: 857
Location: Michigan
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Allex Duetto II
Grinder: Mazzer Major
Posted Wed Nov 6, 2013, 8:05am
Subject: Re: Microfoam: 2 hole or 4 hole?
 

I moved my Duetto to a lower counter for a couple of weeks while i did some work in that area of the house. You would have thought i had never steamed milk before in my life. Just a change in counter hight screwed me up bad for a couple of days, everything else as exactly the same.

I echo Ron's thought about if you have steam in any decent quantity it should work.

 
Yes i have a reason for leaving SCG off my list, yes it is my opinion, yes it is subjective as opinions are by definition, no don't start a flame war because you disagree.
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shnxx
Senior Member
shnxx
Joined: 3 Jul 2009
Posts: 128
Location: Pasadena
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Nov 6, 2013, 12:37pm
Subject: Re: Microfoam: 2 hole or 4 hole?
 

did some more with the available fat free milk.

i think i will not buy fat free milk again.

the foam is almost always bubbly and two-layers: one with large bubbles and one completely liquid.
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jwoodyu
Senior Member
jwoodyu
Joined: 31 Dec 2010
Posts: 857
Location: Michigan
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Allex Duetto II
Grinder: Mazzer Major
Posted Wed Nov 6, 2013, 12:45pm
Subject: Re: Microfoam: 2 hole or 4 hole?
 

I never have been able to do it with fat free though you hear reports of folks that can.

 
Yes i have a reason for leaving SCG off my list, yes it is my opinion, yes it is subjective as opinions are by definition, no don't start a flame war because you disagree.
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Markarian
Senior Member
Markarian
Joined: 27 Jun 2012
Posts: 658
Location: Seattle Area
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Technika IV Profi WT-WC
Grinder: Baratza Forte AP, HG One
Vac Pot: Bunn Trifecta MB
Drip: Moka, Aeropress, Hario V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Nov 6, 2013, 1:37pm
Subject: Re: Microfoam: 2 hole or 4 hole?
 

My Oscar came with four holes, but I went to a single hole for more control. The key to making good microfoam is KEEP THAT MILK MOVING! As long as it's spinning, it will make it easy to recover from bumping your hand, etc. This is the one thing I had to learn on my own through trial and error.
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shnxx
Senior Member
shnxx
Joined: 3 Jul 2009
Posts: 128
Location: Pasadena
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Nov 6, 2013, 4:09pm
Subject: Re: Microfoam: 2 hole or 4 hole?
 

unfortunately the livia 90's steam arm is not very moveable so i'm not sure if I'm angling it correctly with respect to the surface of the milk..
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