Concluding the steaming phase

October 09, 2011

Closing the machine down.  You want to stop texturing the milk when it arrives at roughly 155 degrees F.  At this time you as quickly as possible turn the steam off and remove the pitcher.  It is essential to turn the machine off, too.  No matter how well you steamed your milk if you remove it from the wand before the steam stops flowing you will create bubbles and ruin your microfoam. 


Once the pitcher is removed it is time to move quickly.  The first thing to do is wipe the wand down and purge the steam wand.  This is essential for keeping the machine clean and sanitary.  The wipe down keeps the exterior of the wand clean.  The purging keeps the inside clean.  You would think that would not be a problem since the steam blows out, not in, but supposedly if you do not do that as the machine cools the wand can suck milk, bacteria, etc. back up inside the wand.  I suppose I do not know if this is really true, but it seems plausible and it is fairly widely accepted. 


If you do fail to clean the steam wand well enough on the outside you can try to clean it later, but it is a pain and requires hard work, scrubbing, fingernails, etc.


Now the good news is that you are ready to finally make your drink.  Although the process of steaming milk sounds complicated and in some sense it is, a good barista can steam the milk and have it ready in the 24 seconds that it takes to pull the shot. 


Now it is also essential not to stop and admire your work for long.  The milk will separate very quickly so you want to move on to pouring your drink or preparing to pour for more than one drink as quickly as possible from here.


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