By this time, you've taken the time to read Making Espresso Drinks
and should be getting the hang of the basics; now it's time for a little fine tuning.
The hardest part about steaming milk is getting "good foam"--use these tips to make it happen:
- If you are getting more bubbles than foam, try submerging the steam wand in the milk to build up pressure--then when you hear that high-pitched sound, begin to aerate.
Sometimes bubbles are created when the wand is losing steam (no pun intended) and it needs to ramp up again. Also, be sure the tip of the steam wand is being held parallel or at just a slight angle to the surface of the milk.
- If you want a lot of foam (e.g. for a cappuccino), use the same steps for aeration detailed in Making Espresso Drinks, but allow the steam wand to sit at the milk's surface for longer stretches of time.
This process is tricky, so keep the following in mind if you're having trouble:
- If the body of the espresso shot gets very dark brown or black before the shots have finished pouring, they will taste burned: next time try tamping lighter or use a courser grind.
- If the heart is so light you can't see a distinct difference between it and the body, your shot will taste weak: next time try tamping harder or use a finer grind.
- If water is consistently pouring very fast--and tamping harder doesn't help--your grind is probably too coarse. (These shots will appear lighter in color.)
- If water is pouring too slow--and you are barely tamping--the grind might be too fine. (These shots will be very dark)