Frothing milk for cappuccino

When I returned to the UK after several years in Italy, the one Italian thing above all else I didn’t want to leave behind was their coffee.  Mostly espresso, but a cappuccino also makes a great breakfast or mid-morning drink.  So I bought an espresso machine, and relegated the old percolator to very occasional use.  And to be frank, if I drink percolated coffee in the volumes I did as a student, I feel overdosed on caffeine, so the mini-shot in an espresso not only tastes great but also leaves me feeling better.

The machine makes a decent espresso, and I use it pretty regularly for that.  Unfortunately it’s not so good for a cappucino, and I don’t know why.  The steam nozzle blows steam fairly impressively and creates a little froth on the milk, but nowhere near as much as in a proper Italian bar.

I’m guessing it might be something subtle involving the pressure and power of the steam against the shape of the nozzle, or somesuch.  I’m blogging it in the vague hope that it may find a reader who is a coffee expert and can suggest things to try.  Anyone?

Posted on August 22, 2009, in coffee. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Cappuccino is an artform🙂

    Make sure to RTFM – read your machine’s instructions.
    Make sure to start with cold milk.
    Low-fat / skimmed milk is easier to get frothy (but some frown upon its taste…).
    Experiment and practice. Learn how to start the steam just below the milk surface. Learn how to use modest amounts of steam. Try to swirl the milk. Try to let the milk sit for 10-20s before pouring it.

    If after much messing about extensively, it all still doesn’t work, consider cheating and try to buy special cappuccino milk (high protein, sometimes with a bit of added eggwhite).

    Some relevant resources with much more detail:
    * http://www.ehow.com/how_2134787_perfect-cappuccino-steam-perfect-latt.html
    * http://blog.wompom.org/index.php/2007/07/30/cappuccino-milk/
    * http://www.home-barista.com/espresso-guide-frothing-milk.html

    good luck!

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