We frequently see people boiling and producing bubbly sticky milk, a number of cafes see this as desirable, not in our eyes.
Firstly, this part of making a really nice Cappuccino is probably the hardest to master, so stick with it and practice!
Until you get better at doing it, use at least a third of a jug of milk – start with cold fresh milk (semi skimmed or full fat, whichever you prefer) a 1 litre frothing jug, usually stainless steel with a wide top so that you can see the process easily as you work. The reason for using plenty of milk when you start is simple – a small amount gets too hot very quickly and often causes a bit of panic if it boils over.
To “foam” or “froth” the milk for a cappuccino keep the nozzle on the steam injector close to the top, open the steam valve fully and try to get plenty of air into the milk as the steam is injected – you should open up the valve fully at first, backing off the steam as the milk gets hotter. If the nozzle is a bit too high the milk is very agitated and big bubbles
appear – put the steam nozzle a little lower and try to get a “hissing” or “scuffing” noise.
A nice foam should then start to appear – try to draw the foam higher up the jug, keeping the nozzle at the top by lowering the jug down as it rises. Now the difficult bit – knowing when to stop. You must not boil the milk – it spoils the flavour, many people simply stop when the jug is getting to hot to put your hand on, others rely on thermometers clipped to the jug or simply the noise the process makes as a guide to when to stop, as I said, practice.
Any big bubbles are dispersed by tapping the base of the jug on a work surface before pouring out with a shaking action – this pours foam and milk together evenly. Make the espresso coffee part first and then the milk and foam pour easily – left in the jug it “stiffens up”- great if you are into making shapes though.
As you get better at frothing use less milk. If you have a little bit of hot milk left over you can add more fresh, cold milk to it with little detrimental effect to your next batch.
Milk for Lattes
The same process as above but put the steam injector nozzle lower into the milk so that you get less froth, same as before with the temperature. The milk is often swirled around more in the jug if you watch someone who is good at it, if they are really good they’ll make pretty shapes on the top of the coffee crema using the small amount of foam in the jug as it is
poured – master the foaming first though!