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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Steamed Milk vs...  
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AJM
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Posted Sun Sep 9, 2012, 12:10am
Subject: Steamed Milk vs Froth vs Foam vs Textured Milk etc.
 

I am very new to owning an espresso machine, and I am learning how to "steam" milk. My first attempts resulted in hot milk that was still very watery. I have now progressed to the point where the milk volume increases, and I have about 2/3 section of hot milk and 1/3 section of "micro foam" which appears very much like meringue. I have watched many videos on steaming milk for cappuccino or latte drinks, and they all seem to have slightly different results. Some appear to be very similar to what I am achieving (thick and thin layers) and others seem to have a thick pourable result that seems uniform. Many of the videos I have watched show a cappuccino being made with espresso, thin hot milk, then a spoon of foam on the top. This I can do with good results. Other videos show a cappuccino being made with espresso and a thick creamy steamed milk that pours in a way that they can draw "art" on the surface of the drink. It looks more like what I would think a latte would look like.

I guess my question is, are there different ways to steam the milk for different drinks, and what is the difference between all the different descriptions (steamed vs frothed vs foamed vs textured etc), and are some "correct" and some "wrong"?
Also, is one of my cappuccino descriptions above more correct, or are they both equally proper ways to make it?
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NobbyR
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Posted Sun Sep 9, 2012, 2:16am
Subject: Re: Steamed Milk vs Froth vs Foam vs Textured Milk etc.
 

Steamed, frothed, foamed, and textured milk are IMHO basically synonymous. When you do it right, you get the kind of microfoam required for pouring latte art. It should neither be thin nor have the consistency of rubber foam, the kind you sometimes get at coffee shops. It takes some practicing until you get it right without the milk getting too hot.

A traditional cappuccino is made of a single shot espresso (25 ml) and around 125 ml frothed milk. A traditional caffè latte on the other hand is made of a double shot (50 ml) and 200 ml hot milk (not necessarily topped with frothed milk).

 
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AJM
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Location: Ontario, Canada
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Posted Sun Sep 9, 2012, 9:34am
Subject: Re: Steamed Milk vs Froth vs Foam vs Textured Milk etc.
 

Well, I am a bit confused by your response to my question. Is the hot milk you described for making a traditional latte the same as steamed milk with microfoam for a cappuccino, or is it just hot milk (thin with no foam)? If I properly steam the milk, should my result be uniform or should there be two layers, a thinner layer at the bottom and a thicker layer at the top?
I apologize for being so specific, but I really want to know what my end result should look like if I properly steam the milk. Right now I am afraid I am getting the "rubber foam" that you described. I want to be able to do the best job at steaming the milk and that will only happen if I know what the end result should look like.
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NobbyR
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Posted Sun Sep 9, 2012, 10:14am
Subject: Re: Steamed Milk vs Froth vs Foam vs Textured Milk etc.
 

For a traditional latte you simply heat up milk like in a pot. No frothing involved whatsoever.

Have you read this: click here?

 
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frcn
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Posted Sun Sep 9, 2012, 5:09pm
Subject: Re: Steamed Milk vs Froth vs Foam vs Textured Milk etc.
 

Microfoam is what you are going for, call it what you like. Visually it looks like white latex paint and when done properly will have no visually discernible bubbles. it has viscosity, but when spooned it flows like thick liquid, and will not make spoonable tufts or peaks. The meringue look is not what you are going for. For a good guide to get started, try this video:
http://vimeo.com/28227701

If you have difficulty, try a different brand of milk. Proper microfoam is a relationship of protein and fat, and both have to be of high quality. The feed the cows get as well as processing, storage and age of the milk all have an effect on the ability to stretch it.

 
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AJM
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Location: Ontario, Canada
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Posted Sun Sep 9, 2012, 6:28pm
Subject: Re: Steamed Milk vs Froth vs Foam vs Textured Milk etc.
 

NobbyR Said:

For a traditional latte you simply heat up milk like in a pot. No frothing involved whatsoever.

Have you read this: click here?

Posted September 9, 2012 link

I just read the frothing guide, and it was very good, thank you for that.
If I understand the article correctly, there should always be a small amount of microfoam in properly prepared milk. I have done some extra work with my milk steaming, and the results are much better now. The finished milk is much more uniform, and by swirling it in the pitcher, I can keep it that way so it no longer separates. Now I have another question. The end of the article talked about latte art. Is this a description of adding flair to any of the drinks that use textured milk, or is it only for lattes? For example, can you finish a cappuccino with latte art on top of it? I have been to cafés both in North America and in Europe where a cappuccino will have just foam or it will have latte art on it. I had always assumed the better cafés used latte art and the more common cafés only used foam. However, the cappuccinos with latte art always seem to be of a larger volume than the cappuccinos that only used foam. This tends to make me think that the foam only cappuccinos are more correct or more traditional. I know that I am probably being too picky, but this is the way that I learn.
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AJM
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Location: Ontario, Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Sep 9, 2012, 6:37pm
Subject: Re: Steamed Milk vs Froth vs Foam vs Textured Milk etc.
 

frcn Said:

Microfoam is what you are going for, call it what you like. Visually it looks like white latex paint and when done properly will have no visually discernible bubbles. it has viscosity, but when spooned it flows like thick liquid, and will not make spoonable tufts or peaks. The meringue look is not what you are going for. For a good guide to get started, try this video:
http://vimeo.com/28227701

If you have difficulty, try a different brand of milk. Proper microfoam is a relationship of protein and fat, and both have to be of high quality. The feed the cows get as well as processing, storage and age of the milk all have an effect on the ability to stretch it.

Posted September 9, 2012 link

I have bookmarked the link that you provided and I will certainly watch it when I have the time. I have been able to improve my steaming technique so that the result no longer looks like meringue. I still have a ways to go, but at least I'm getting closer with each attempt. My ultimate goal of course is to be able to produce latte art. I am trying to determine if using latte art on a cappuccino is acceptable. I have been to several cafés and ordered a cappuccino that had latte art on it whereas others do not do this. I guess I was under the impression that latte art is for latte drinks only. Thanks again for the link.
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NobbyR
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NobbyR
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Posted Sun Sep 9, 2012, 10:52pm
Subject: Re: Steamed Milk vs Froth vs Foam vs Textured Milk etc.
 

Of course you can top your cappuccino with latte art, it's very common, but it's just a gimmick.

 
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Coffeenoobie
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Posted Sun Sep 9, 2012, 11:30pm
Subject: Re: Steamed Milk vs Froth vs Foam vs Textured Milk etc.
 

a gimmick I try to do every day...

 
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AJM
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Joined: 6 Aug 2012
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Location: Ontario, Canada
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Sep 10, 2012, 2:58am
Subject: Re: Steamed Milk vs Froth vs Foam vs Textured Milk etc.
 

Coffeenoobie Said:

a gimmick I try to do every day...

Posted September 9, 2012 link

Yes! I want to be able to present my drinks in the most appealing manner. Presentation of food is very important to the whole experience.
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