Archive for September, 2010

Milk Texture

Posted in Uncategorized on September 11, 2010 by whyyoushouldhatecoffee

I’ve been thinking for quite some time that one of the things that I don’t see enough chatter about in the industry and on the forums/blogs is Milk Texture.

there’s loads of theory, opinion, how-tos and trouble shooting concepts on espresso, single cup brewing and extraction in general which I think is great.  I think considering how much of it we use, that Milk should be discussed as well and in further detail than it has before.

I’ve been thinking it would be nice to have some baselines for how milk texture is applied and how to best control it.  Recently I’ve been making lots of charts and graphs, which I find really helpful.  I composed this one to start discussion and get thoughts on the topic of analyzing milk texture using a control chart.

This chart shows three different methods of achieving “good” milk texture.

The red is a very aggressive introduction of texture/air,  assuming it’s followed by incorporation with the rest of the milk.

The Orange is a longer time(0-2.5sec)/less aggressive introduction of texture/air, less incorporation is needed because the larger bubbles are not as present.

Finally, the Yellow spans from 40-90°F or 0-4sec. much less aggressive, and requires less/no incorporation with the rest of the milk.

In my experience, any incorporation of air after 90°F is extremely difficult to incorporate with the rest of the milk.

I’ve found that when texturizing small quantities of milk, for say 1-6oz. Capp, using the last methods works best for me. trying to stay consistent throughout. changing aggression levels has proven difficult for me, especially on a Synesso.

Whereas, large quantities of milk, say for 1-12oz Latte, using a super aggressive introduction followed by a long period of “polishing” seems to work really well and allows for me to hone in on the final texture.

Anyways, just thought I’d through out some theories on that and see what everyone thinks about aggression levels and if that’s something that other Baristas are messing around with.

On another note: methods for incorporation.

I assume we’ve all noticed a difference, while incorporating air, in the second part of the steaming process, how high or low you place the steam wand, and what that does to the shape of the milk (intense cyclone/hills), and what it does to the final texture.

Low in the Milk/Intense Cyclone

High in the Milk/Hills

When I originally started training for Latte Art, one of my coworkers shed some light on what the steam wand is doing.  For some reason I had never really thought of it, I had simply always aimed for a cyclone or intense little tornado shape in the pitcher, folding the milk on top of itself.

My coworker turned the steam wand on while it wasn’t in the milk and showed that the steam is aiming down at roughly 45°, depending on the tip of course.  In his theory, you could use this to your advantage.  Instead of folding the milk on top of itself, use the steam to force the air bubbles down into the rest of the milk.  In order to do this he explained “you simply, place the steam wand in the appropriate depth”  of course this is hugely dependent on how much air you’ve incorporated in the beginning, but paying enough attention I have found that it works out really well! especially for larger quantities of milk.

The latter image shows his theoretical technique.  Of course there would be a bit more turbulence, but surprisingly not very much.

There you go.  Thoughts on Milk!

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