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When you watch those minimum-wage kids at Starbucks working on your cappuccino, don’t you often wonder to yourself how long it takes to learn how to make the milk all fluffy like that? They must put them through some kind of course or intensive training program where the masters of the Italian coffee making art sweat bullets passing on the secrets of centuries past to their students, all carefully hand-picked for their potential of a decades-long future in the business – right?
Wrong. Here’s what it comes down to.
1. Put the tip of the steamer into the milk and turn on the steam.
2. Slowly lower the pitcher until the tip is near the top of the milk and giving you a delicate foaming action.
3. Don’t boil the milk.
That’s all! That’s it! You’re making steamed milk just like the baristas of old, and now you’re ready for that? I’m only doing it for the summer’ job at the Corporate Hell Cafe!
Well, not quite. I mean, there is more of an art to steaming or frothing milk than the three steps above, but if you’ve invested in a coffee maker (and you should) so you can make home cappuccinos, then the big three pointers will get you 90% of the way there. To get really GOOD at the milk steaming frothing game, you’ve got to use your senses.
You’re looking for a fluffy foam to happen, not just bubbly milk. Take it too far and your foam turns into clumps. Find the middle ground!
After a handful of tries, you should be able to hear when your cappuccino machine is making the right pitch as it steams your milk. To muffled = too deep. Too loud = not deep enough.
The sweet spot in steamed milk is not static. It moves around as the milk gets foamier, so you have to learn to move with it. Up and down, shake it around, blast those bigger bubbles and protect the smaller ones. It’s a dance, you’ve just got to go with it.
Ultimately, the finished product will tell you if you’ve hit the nail on the head or not. And if you haven’t, heck, try again! It’s always fun to consume your failures :)
Alternatively, get one of the Milk Frother below (some cost as little as $8).