HOW TO MAKE MICROFOAM- LIKE A PRO
You are seated in a coffee shop close to the window. And you are taking a steaming hot latte and you are wondering how the drink came out perfect? Is it the mixture of the coffee and milk that was steamed to perfection? Or that airy layer of foam on the coffee?
And the most important question is how you can recreate this drink perfectly at home. We believe the ingredient that makes this drink perfect is the microfoam. We will tell you what it is and how to make it at home.
WHAT IS MICROFOAM?
We bet you can tell the difference between a good cup of joe and a great cup of joe. Especially for coffee that has milk. What differentiates them is the type of milk used.
We know you are wondering what microfoam is? Microfoam is a layer of steamed milk, it is usually whole milk that is poured on the surface of a café au lait or latte. The goal here is for the microfoam to have as little air as possible inside the milk. The tiny air bubbles will create a velvety foam and give you a smooth surface.
Microfoam is the base for the latte art and stencil work you see baristas trying to do. If you steam the milk and there is more air, the bubbles will be larger and this won't be considered microfoam but macrofoam.
DRINKS THAT USE MICROFOAM
Most milk-based espresso drinks require microfoam- latte, cappuccino, cafe au lait. Note that macrofoam can be used for a cappuccino- you can achieve this with a handheld frother. If you are not really into coffee but you like the taste of milk, then go for steamers. This is milk steamed to perfection, then you can add any flavor you like. This drink can leave you wanting more.
Also, you can make a steamer using a handheld frother. It all boils down to your preference and the slickness you want to get from the milk.
MAKING MICROFOAM WITH A STEAM WAND
To create a microfoam successfully with a steam wand, you need to start with powerful steam. The next thing is to heat it to create all those tiny bubbles you see in your cup. These bubbles will not only capture all these delicious flavors and the espresso drink taste, but they will also unleash the sweet taste of the milk.
As you take a sip, the tiny bubbles will burst in your mouth. You will be tasting a mixture obtained from the perfect harmony of the espresso drink and sweet milk. There is something you need to do before starting the frothing process- ensure that you remove any condensed water that is present in the steam wand. If you don't do this properly, the water will be pushed into the milk and dilute milk. In the end, you’ll find it difficult to achieve the consistency you want for the microfoam.
THESE ARE THE STEPS
- The tip of the steam wand should be lowered below the surface of your milk. This will save you from the noise- that high-pitched noise the steamed makes and you’ll be able to have a rolling current as you steam the milk. This will break the air, creating a creamy microfoam for your drink.
- Add air to the milk by raising the tip of the steam wand to the surface until it makes a continuous ripping sound. The purpose of all these is to create a paint-like consistency with the milk and maintain the same texture in the foam. TIP: You shouldn't raise the wand too far out of the pitcher. You wouldn't want the bubbles to blow on the surface of the milk, making a hot foam splash all over your kitchen.
- You can now bring the wand below the surface of the milk and keep rolling. Find a convenient place in your kitchen and be patient. You have to wait, you wouldn't want the pitcher to be moved too much. You should let the milk roll because it helps to break large bubbles and will give the foam a good mix.
- Make sure the milk is not so hot. If it's too hot, you won't be able to hold the pitcher. It means you overdid it. You also have to be careful not to burn the milk.
- When you are done, pour the silky, smooth milk into your espresso and enjoy this drink. If you feel like you are up for a challenge, you can add a latte art heart. The end product should be milk with a smooth surface. Note that excess milk foam is not required for perfect latte art. If you discover there is excess foam, you can dispose of some of the foam. The easiest way to do this is to tilt your pitcher sideways, as you hold the handle.
- Now pour it through the rim of your pitcher. TIP: Make sure you don't pour through the spout. If you do this, it will release the already steamed milk through the foam or under it. It is reducing the portion you will need to make the later art.
MAKING MICROFOAM MILK AT HOME
So you want to make a cappuccino or a cup of latte at home? You can. Your ability to pour a perfect microfoam into your cup of coffee will change your coffee drinking experience. There are different ways to go about this if you don't have a steam wand.
Note that the easiest way to do this is to buy an automatic milk frother. This equipment will not only heat your milk but will give you the desired result in a few minutes. Another alternative is to pump the hot milk in a French press. You can also buy a handheld frother.
Note that this should be your last resort because it is quite difficult to make small bubbles with this equipment. It will create macrofoam instead. But the clean-up process for this equipment is fast and easy.
RIGHT TEMPERATURE FOR THE MILK
This is something important you should consider. If the milk is too hot, you’ll end up with milk with a stretched-out velvet texture. And it will be a bit flat. If the milk is cold, you will have steamed milk with a mushy taste and you don't want this. The sweet spot is to aim 60 to 70 degrees Celsius.
Don't fret, it will get easy with time. You just have to keep practicing to get the perfect level of foam. For starters, you can use a thermometer until you know the correct temperature without using it.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT MILK FOR MICROFOAM
You need to know to start with a suitable type of milk. As we mentioned above, microfoam should be smooth and creamy with tiny bubbles. The bubbles you’ll get depends on the technique you use. But the smoothness, creaminess, and texture depend on the type of milk used. This is because of the fat content in the milk. Some coffee lovers like to use full cream milk that has about 3.2 to 3.5% of fat and that's the content needed for latte art.
This is because the fat content will provide a good base to produce the microfoam needed for the latte art. You can also use skimmed milk or low-fat milk but it will require a bit more work. You need to make some adjustments to the frothing technique to achieve similar results.
Now you know how to make a microfoam, drinks that need it, and how to froth milk with a steam wand or simple home equipment. It's time to test your latte art skills so go to the kitchen and put all you’ve read so far to a test.
Before you do that, you should know one important factor that cannot be missed. You can make a perfect foam over and over and it may not give you the taste you desire because you didn't brew the espresso with freshly roasted coffee beans. You won't get delicious coffee drinks with stale beans.
So buy some from Coffee Hero and start testing! We sell single-origin beans and coffee blends with different tasting notes- chocolatey, nutty, earthy, and floral. We offer FREE SHIPPING. Click here to find out more.