Baristas are masters in making art. Their craftsmanship revolves around three main ingredients- milk, water, and coffee. A lot of articles have already been covered at length about coffee and water, but milk is yet to be discussed.
Milk plays a major role in the making of renowned coffee such as cappuccino, latte, and flat whites. So, knowing the components of milk will make your choices about the temperature to be used in each coffee drink easier. This article will guide you more about full-fat or skimmed milk.
The most basic question is, what is milk?
Milk is produced in the mammary glands of the mammals. Milk is a nutritious liquid that consists of insoluble proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and salt dissolved in water. The milk is steamed and differs greatly from cup to cup.
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Why is foam produced when milk is steamed?
When air is introduced into the milk using the steam wand of the espresso machine, milk steam is produced. For the foam to settle down perfectly, it is important for the milk to be warmed enough. The milk protein starts to fold together when it is heated; it unfolds and interacts with each other more strongly.
As the nature of the protein chain is said to be polar, it has both hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties. One side of the protein chain is attracted to the water while the other side is repelled by the water. Due to having a higher proportion of water, the hydrophobic end of the unfolded protein chain repels the water as much as possible, while the hydrophilic ends are soluble in the water molecules. This property helps the air bubble to last for a long period of time. If air is introduced in the cold milk, it will form smaller air pockets than milk frothed after heating.
Which foam texture is better, skim milk foam or whole milk foam?
The hydrophilic ends of the milk attract the fats. This allows us to form a steady fat-in-water. The higher the amount of fat the milk contains, the stickier it feels. The difference between whole milk and skim milk is the presence of milk fat. In skim milk, the fat milk is not present means that the proteins place themselves with the hydrophobic ends that are usually pointed inwards towards the air bubbles being infused into the fluid by the barista in order to show their characteristics which is to repel the water. This makes the bubble walls stronger.
Driers foam is not the perfect foam for the optimum level of coffee. The best category of foams is the ones that will mix with espresso smoothly and easily and will have the perfect finish to the coffee. Drier foams tend to form a layer at the top, which is usually plopped by the consumer with a spoon. Using this sort of foam does not give the perfect taste of the coffee.
Fat content is an important factor for the foam that will be formed from the milk. Whole milk contains 3.5 to 4 percent fat that mixes perfectly with the espresso. The fats convey coffee’s fragrances pleasantly, and when the milk is steamed, they help produce an enduring, rich froth with more flavor. So, whole milk is the best choice for making rich foam.
What is microfoam?
A decent microfoam resembles wet paint. It’s a premium quality foam, which is what all baristas want when they are making cappuccinos or lattes. It’s a lot thicker in texture and contains no air, which makes it the perfect milk to be used in the cups of latte to produce prominent latte art.
To warm up, the milk pressurized steam is used in the steamed milk; while warming up the milk, it even forms a texture. This happens when the steamed milk warms up the sugars in the milk and separates the fat. As the steaming procedure continues, air bubbles form inside the milk, making a layer of microfoam that makes the perfect texture. Microfoams are harder to produce using skim milk. Its texture is so velvety that if it can be poured into the correct amount, it will feel like heaven poured into a mug. Now the million-dollar question arises how to actually make this microfoam? The following article will guide you to make the best possible microfoam.
The first step that you need to follow to make the microfoam is to place the steam wand into the milk and turn it on. The speed should be as higher as possible more like the speed of a tornado on the milk while doing this keep one hand on the milk container to check the temperature successfully. Make sure that the milk is not overheated as overheated milk means there will be the presence of more milk, which will lead to less smooth milk.
It’s the perfect microfoam that allows baristas to create marvelous art on the latte. The microfoams not only allow the barista to make the finest art but also allows to create the perfect balance of the coffee.
What is foam or frothed milk?
To create this frothed milk, a similar practice like the microfoam is followed apart from the steaming part. While steamed the milk is significantly, more air is infused, which gives the milk light and bubbly texture. Foamed milk is less velvety.
To create appropriate foam milk, first, place the tip of the wand above the surface of the milk and turn it on. In this case, also the speed matters, and the speed should be higher, just like a whirlwind. Unlike microfoam this time, the air is reliably infused into the milk until the milk container arrives at a point too hot to even think about holding. The amount of milk will be less in the container when steaming frothed milk because the air formed in the frothed milk will normally expand the milk and will increase its volume, so be aware of the amount you use.
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Understanding the correct temperature
The trickiest part is to maintain the temperature; among the numerous factors, the temperature is said to be the most important factor that needs to be considered when steaming the milk. The flavor, texture, and thickness all depend on the temperature. Excessively hot, and the milk will be left with a smooth surface.
The excessively cold temperature will lead the milk to wet and ‘saturated’ milk. The correct temperature varies for different milk brands and the quality of milk. For whole milk, the correct temperature is higher than skim milk as it requires a longer time to heat because it contains more fat, yet there are some benchmarks to consider.
For instance, cow’s milk comprises two kinds of proteins: Caseins (which represent around 80 percent of the milk) and whey proteins (which make up the staying 20 percent). Expert baristas recommend that steamed or foamed milk ideally settles between the 140-160 Fahrenheit section.
However, this varies from cafe to cafe as many specialty coffee shops prefer the lower temperature to get the perfect temperature, while many coffee shops chains prefer higher temperature, so there is no hard and fast rule for this it is based on the preference and the quality that the baristas want to provide to the drinkers.
After knowing all about milk, foam, and coffee, the question must arise that whether foam is the only difference between a latte and a cappuccino or not. Well, most people claim that coffees contain steamed milk, froth milk, and espresso in equal proportion. However, numerous Italians really like theirs senza schiuma, or without froth by any means. So, it may be the froth or might not.
In New Zealand and Australian coffee culture, a cappuccino is served in 6-or 8-ounce of clay cups with rich microfoam and a scramble of chocolate powder, while lattes (which have more froth than their U.S.) come in glass vessels. So, it may be the cup, or it might not. Therefore, it actually depends on the preference of different people.
Despite the fact that there are rules to follow to create great quality coffee drinks, numerous coffeehouses neglect to really see how to make microfoam, and therefore, they wind up yielding on quality.
Foam milk is generally easier to create than microfoams. It requires less control and exactness over air infusion. Thus ruining the quality of the frothed milk is less likely to happen. Microfoam, at that point, requires more precision, and it tends to become tarnished; however, the prize hugely exceeds the danger of a misstep because the first sip from the cup of the velvety textured coffee will be worth it all.