Barista Training: The art of steaming your milk

steaming milk - barista lesson

Barista Lesson: The Art of Steaming Milk

If you are thinking about how to be a barista with no experience, you can rest assured that most coffee shop owners look for a friendly, open-minded and teachable personality rather than for a barista with years of experience.

With this online barista training course you will learn the basics of coffee drink-building. Let’s talk about milk, which has truly become the second most important ingredient after coffee itself.

Milk portioning

As a good barista you don’t want to waste any of your milk. So, you want to steam only as much milk as you need for the beverage you are preparing. 

At your barista workstation it’s worth having at least three pitchers of different sizes for steaming different amounts of milk:

  • 350 ml (12 oz) – for cappuccino size and smaller beverages. If you use this pitcher to steam your milk for latte, then fill only half of it.
  • 600 ml (20 oz) – for different sizes of latte.
  • 950 ml (32 oz) – for steaming two drinks at once or for a large latte.

Never fill your pitcher more half full. Remember: when steaming the milk will expand 30-40%.

barista lesson - the art of steaming milk

Milk steaming workstation

Almost every espresso machine is equipped with a steam wand that has a removable tip. You start hot air with a knob, on-off button or lever depending on a type of an espresso machine. You also need a dedicated wet towel to immediately wipe the steam wand after every steaming.

You should always keep your milk and your pitchers in a fridge. Rinse your pitchers after every use. Keeping your workstation clean is critical for your machine and for the health of you and your customers. Keeping your customers safe from food-borne illnesses is one important element to your job as a barista. 

Milk steaming technique

As a part of your online barista training you need to learn how to properly steam your milk. Before starting purge the steam wand to get rid of any excess milk that could accidentally stay inside. Set the angle of the steam wand towards the floor.

The tip of the wand should be right below the surface of the milk closer to the side of the pitcher. Turn on the hot air pressure and start stretching your milk keeping the tip of the steam wand close to the surface. As you add the air to your milk you’ll hear hissing or paper tearing sound. Warm your milk till it’s too hot to touch (approx. 100 F). Quickly raise the pitcher up and heat your milk.

On this stage the circulation of the milk will break down the bubbles so that you don’t see them anymore. This is the secret to make creamy fluffy foam. Once you get the desired temperature (approx. 140F) turn off the hot air and set the pitcher aside. Purge the steam wand.

Now you need to polish your milk. Make a tap with your pitcher to get rid of any bigger bubbles then swirl your milk in circular motions.

Not enough foam?

If you don’t get enough foam it means you are doing something wrong on the stretching stage. Perhaps, you introduce too little air or don’t spend enough time stretching your milk.

On the contrary, if you get too many bubbles or they are thick and airy, it means you introduce too much air to your milk. Try not to spend too much time on stretching stage – lift the pitcher up as soon as you feel with your hand that it’s too hot.

Barista Training Academy is your online barista training resource. Our aim is to help you get the knowledge and education to enter the workforce as a highly knowledgeable barista.