How to Steam Milk Like a Professional Barista

How to Steam Milk Like a Professional Barista

Steaming well-textured milk consistently is one of the biggest challenges for new baristas, both in the cafe and at home. If you've already started practicing or if you're brand new to milk steaming, this quick guide will help guide you on your barista journey.

1. Measuring: Use the cup you'll be drinking from to measure the amount of milk needed, then transfer to your steaming pitcher. Be sure there will be room to fit the espresso and steamed milk foam.  A drink like a latte will have more milk and less foam compared to a cappuccino which has more foam and less milk.

2. Purge: Running the steam wand for a second or two will flush out condensation buildup to avoid disrupting the steaming process. 

3. Placement: Pull the steam wand outward at about a 45-60 degree angle, and use the steaming pitcher spout as a guide to place the wand tip just below the surface of the milk and slightly off center.

4. Steam: Turn the steam wand on all the way. If your placement of the steam wand is correct you'll see the milk start swirling around in a whirlpool motion.

5. Listen: The milk should make a paper tearing or hissing sound, if it sounds like the milk screaming or gurgling then your placement of the steam wand is either too deep or too shallow, make gentle movements to correct it.

6. Look: Watch the milk whirlpool as it rises, it only needs to rise an inch or two.  As a general rule of thumb, the size of the bubbles in the milk will be directly proportional to the distance between the tip of the steam wand and the surface of the milk?  Generally you're looking for smaller micro-bubbles so avoid pulling the steaming pitcher too far away from the milk.

7. Feel: Gently place your free hand on the bottom of the pitcher while steaming. Once it's too hot to touch, turn the steam wand off.

Getting the perfect milk is a skill that takes time and patience, so don't worry if you struggle with it at first. One of the most interesting things about coffee is how much there is to learn about it, and you get to have fun while doing it.  Try our Espresso Fino blend to make the perfect espresso and milk based drink!

What is Espresso?
I'm New to Specialty Coffee, Where do I Begin?