One of the hallmarks of a great home barista is knowing how to steam milk and create perfect lattes, flat whites, and other espresso-based drinks.
If you want to learn how to expertly steam milk with a Sage coffee machine, then read on - we've got all the secrets to latte success in this post!
Tools & Ingredients You Need
- Coffee machine with steam arm/wand (we recommend using a Sage coffee machine)
- Milk jug
- Milk (there's lots of milk options for you to choose from - here's a great article to read if you'd like to know more. And if you'd rather use a milk alternative, then head to our blog that explains why some are better for foaming than others!)
Below you will find all the steps that you need to correctly carry steaming milk yourself.
Pour your cold milk into a jug. You'll want to fill the jug between 1/3 or 1/2 full. The milk will need the space to expand with all those lovely bubbles, so don't fill it too much!
Purge the steam wand by turning it on and off
Place the tip of the steam arm just below the surface of the milk
Turn the steam arm on to full power
Listen! The best way to ensure that you're steaming your milk correctly is to listen to what it is doing. If you hear a high-pitched sound, then you're doing it right. If your milk is splattering, then the steam arm is too high up in your milk, and if you don't hear anything, it is too low.
As the milk froths, lower the jug to keep the wand's tip submerged in liquid and not froth
Heat to the required temperature - around 40-45 C.
Now raise the jug a few centimeters and reposition it. You'll want the steam wand to be near one side of the jug and below the milk's surface. Angle it slightly, so that there is a small whirlpool effect. This will break down bubbles and create a smooth foam.
When the milk is 60 C, turn the steam off.
Give the base of a jug a firm tap on the counter (just like you see the baristas do in your favourite coffee shop!) This will break any surface bubbles.
Clean the steam arm with a damp cloth.
Now you can add your milk to your espresso-based drink. Swirl the milk in the jug and keep swirling until the foam is spread evenly. Then you can enjoy your latte, flat white, or whatever drink you've just expertly made for yourself!
Our top tips:
- Try your hand at latte art! Pour the milk slowly and evenly at a fairly high distance. Once you've filled the cup halfway, bring the jug closer. If you've foamed your milk well, this will create a distinct layer. Starting on the side farthest from you, pour the foam into the cup and draw the pitcher towards you, creating a white circle. Once you reach the other side of the cup, quickly drag the pitcher back across the cup, “cutting” the circle into a heart. It'll take some practice, so keep trying!
- Use fresh, cold milk. It also helps if your frothing jug is cold. This is because they allow more time for you to control the steaming process. Think about it - if your milk was room temperature, it would take far less time to get to the perfect temperature of 60 C - or even higher! So by keeping the milk and jug as cold as possible, you're giving yourself more time to get the perfect angle and to steam the milk properly.
- Always clean as you go. It is incredibly important that your lovely Sage coffee machine is looked after - you don't want to have burnt milk all over the steam wand! This will make it look gross, and it'll impact the flavour of the milk. Making sure that you purge the wand is also important, because sometimes particles of milk can get stuck inside it. Purging it allows you to get rid of any excess particles without getting it into your fresh milk. For more information about cleaning a Sage espresso machine, head here.
- Temperature is key! If the milk is cooler than 60 C, it will dominate the flavour of the coffee. Going above this allows the espresso flavour to really shine through. But if you allow the milk to get hotter than 70 C, the creamy milk flavour will be gone, and the bitterness of the espresso will take over. If the milk gets above 80 C, then discard it immediately. It is burnt and will taste horrible.
By following these tips, you should be able to expertly steam milk with a Sage coffee machine.