An obvious secret to improving steamed milk?
This blog is about something that simply should be obvious. It should be so obvious that I was reluctant to blog about it until I realized that I had been steaming milk for 6 years before I realized it was such a good idea.
The strategy is simple: always taste the milk!
No, I do not mean taste it after you pour the drink and in your coffee. Taste it on its own separately after you pour your drink. It should taste great. It should taste much sweeter than regular milk without a hint of scalded milk. The texture should be smooth on the tongue and much thicker than unsteamed milk.
It would have never crossed my mind to make espresso drinks such as a cappuccino without tasting the espresso on its own enough times to make sure that I knew it was going to taste good as an individual component. It is, of course, not true that the best shot of espresso always makes the best cappuccino – the right coffee for a drink will certainly depend on the quantity of milk you intend to add, but a bad shot will never make a good drink. And I have never had a great shot that made a bad milk drink.
It in fact makes even more sense to taste the milk than to taste the espresso because I think the better the milk tastes, the better the drink will taste. I have never found a way to steam milk or a brand of milk where I thought it tasted worse than another milk, but made a better cappuccino. The same goes for macchiattos. I confess I do not make many lattes, but I think the bigger milk drinks will, in fact, be more directly related to the milk’s taste so it should go even more so there.
Why it took me years to figure this out is beyond me, but I almost never steam milk now without letting taste be one of my guiding senses.
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