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  • Milk temperature

    Ive never been a big drinker of milk based coffees. However, since Ive owned my Sunbeam EM5800 Ive become interested in milk based drinks. Maybe as a beginner, Ive misunderstood, but I notice on this forum and in other places references to heating milk to 60-65 degrees to avoid scalding it.

    After searching on google on non-coffee related sites, Ivediscovered that the actual scalding temperature of milk appears to be closer to 82 degrees.

    Could someone help me understand the difference please? Am I misunderstanding something important here?

    Best wishes, Russell

  • #2
    Re: Milk temperature

    Milk begins to lose its sweetness after about 65-70. So as much as anything, its about keeping it below that temperature.

    Anything much hotter than 65 or so and you are in the "too hot to drink right away" territory. I like my coffee now, not in 10 minutes (hell, thats plenty of time to make another one!).

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Milk temperature

      Just made a cappucino now, I took it to 65C (because someone likes theirs hot), well the thermometer lags so I it actually went to 67C and tasted crap! Like Bruce said it loses its sweetness after a certain temperature.

      I use a digital frothing thermometer and have found that about 63C is optimum (on my thermometer anyway). So if you stop as it hits about 60C you should be right.

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      • #4
        Re: Milk temperature

        You could probably stop heating up the milk at about 55 degrees as by the time you turn off the steam and take the wand out of the jug, the milk has reached the temp you are after. As generally, the temp does keep rising after being heated.

        Out here, sadly, too many people want to drink their drinks way way too hot, and if you serve up a 65 degree drink, they consider that cold! Ugh. But the customer is always right...

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        • #5
          Re: Milk temperature

          Unfortunately,
          the customer isnt always as right as they might think.....

          Personally I like my milk based drinks around 60-65 deg otherwise its too hot to drink, and yes the taste deteriorates if you heat the milk further.
          And the next take-away coffee that I have that nearly burns my mouth 5 minutes after I left the shop might get taken back.

          Unfortunately again, many people who have grown up making instant coffee or tea straight from a boiling kettle or jug get used to a scalding hot drink and anything else doesnt taste right, not because its wrong but because its different..theres a whole post about this somewhere.

          Some have taken to advertising the fact that they steam the milk to the recommended 65 deg for maximum sweetness, and if customers want there drink hotter they should specifically request it, whereupon the cup or glass can be scallede with boiling water just before the drink is made
          The lag issue depends a bit on the relative size of jug and steam capacity, for example most thermoblock and small boiler machines up to Silvia size generally dont have the steam capacity to cause singificant lag problems, but most larger boilers, HX machines can heat even medium size jugs very quickly, and lag can be as much as 10 deg as Scoota said.

          So I agree with the sentiments and advice given by Bruce, Bloop and Scoota. Heat your milk to around 60-65 and you will have the best tasting drinks.

          Regards
          Bullitt

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Milk temperature

            Overheated milk is so yuk.. it really bugs me cause I hate that taste in coffee especially when its good coffee (and Ive overheat milk and sinked coffee a fair bit)... when using a HX or better machine the key for me is stopping the steam in time, especially with small amounts of milk.
            The machines can overheat milk very quickly. On the temp side things, Ive never used a thermometer, I dont like the idea. I prefer to go by feel alone... middle of palm on jug etc. I think the key for me was developing "the knack" through feel and taste... then you can heat any amount of milk and know it will taste good.
            Thermometer is a great tool I guess but like any tool in need to be used by good "hands".

            The middle of the palm technique was taught to me by a wonderfully skilled Barista... basically you put the middle soft part of your palm on the corner base of the jug and when it almost feels like its about to burn you switch the steam off. BTW its will be a "feel/taste" thing from there because we all have different tolerances, e.g. a workman will have thicker palms etc. Maybe when do the palm technique, use the thermo as a biofeedback to develop the skill with a much quicker learning curve.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Milk temperature

              Ok,

              Thought Id update as to the accurracy on the palm method with a digital thermometer that I just bought....
              Used palm and then did a reading immediately after stopping, it was 59.3 degrees. Maybe due to time delay it could have almost reached 60 because every 1 to 2 sec it fell a little in temp.

              The thermometer is accurate to 0.1 degree celcius and the reading took no more than 3 to 4 secs to complete and was taken with less than a sec delay.

              This cost me $16 (bought on impulse) to verify that palm method is the most user friendly biofeedback method avaliable and the best thing about the equipment is... its free.

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              • #8
                Re: Milk temperature

                Much appreciated.

                Nice to know I can save $16.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Milk temperature

                  ok, just want to add a bit of info here.

                  Some people have sensitive palms, others dont. I heat milk and can pretty accurately stop heating it when I want. My girlfriend cant get near that temperature before she has to remove her palm, its too hot for her. So we cant consistently get to the same temperature by palms alone.

                  I dont get my temperature the same every time Im heating milk. I get distracted by something, perhaps shutting off the pour if Im doing both tasks at once, perhaps watching the fish swim by in the tank next to the machine.

                  So when paying attention, I can get the temperature reasonably similar. That doesnt mean I know what that temperature is, or if its optimal.

                  To re-state Attilios sentiments from elsewhere (sorry if I mis-quote you, I accept responsibility for any mistake) theres a good way to get the correct temperature, and get it consistly, including between baristii - use a thermometer.

                  For the sake of $11 (coffeeparts website rough price), give it a whirl. Consider it the future savings on roasting green beans at home If youre like me youve got more invested in milk jugs than that, and some weeks I go through more than $16 of milk for coffee let alone on the cereal, so it seems a small investment. The act of simply having it there can make you more vigilant on stopping heating at the same point.

                  Perhaps the previous poster was lucky in obtaining 60deg, and you wouldnt be..... no offence LiquidHeaven, but a one measurement sample size doesnt really give me a level of comfort that its a reliable repeatable experiment.

                  Having said this all, I no longer use a milk thermo. I have an analog (dial) type milk thermometer that sits in the kitchen drawer. Like all of these thermos it lags behind the actual temperature, and in fact may even be many degrees out, but I know if I stop heating at the same point, I have a better chance of getting consistent results. For me I used it for a while, to watch the lag and overshoot, and to build my knowledge. I compared the sensation from the jug, the noises the milk makes, and the final resulting milk/coffee drink to build a more repeatable process. Now Ive moved past that but still think that it was a valuable learning experience.

                  My $11 contribution......

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Milk temperature

                    Originally posted by poundy link=1155266544/0#8 date=1156249923
                    ...perhaps watching the fish swim by in the tank next to the machine...

                    ;D

                    Do they enjoy their view of your machine too, Poundy?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Milk temperature

                      Originally posted by poundy link=1155266544/0#8 date=1156249923
                      My $11 contribution......
                      Not as short an sweet as my comment but well said.

                      I tend not to use smilies much, so sometimes my sense of humour may not be blatently obvious.

                      I may actually be tempted to invest in a thermometer out of curiosity.
                      As an auditor I like to follow processes. Consistency is a big thing to me.

                      And as you say, we all have different sensitivities.
                      I for one have been doing martial arts for over 30 years so my hands are not quite as soft as my office profession might suggest.
                      I also worked at Pizza Hut for 6 years and held the record at my store for how long you could keep your hand in the oven (I was young and it can get boring on quiet nights).

                      I do think though that Id also relegate the instrument to the drawer once Ive satisfied myself that I can judge fairly accurately manually.

                      For the moment though, Ive had no complaints from either the barista that taught me or my family who are now subject to my brews.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Milk temperature

                        Originally posted by scoota gal link=1155266544/0#9 date=1156257082
                        Originally posted by poundy link=1155266544/0#8 date=1156249923
                        ...perhaps watching the fish swim by in the tank next to the machine...

                        ;D

                        Do they enjoy their view of your machine too, Poundy?
                        They do, but the view of the frying pan next to it really makes them nervous! ;D

                        Java "Hhmmm...Fish n Chips!" phile
                        Toys! I must have new toys!!!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Milk temperature

                          Sure Poundy, you are right... though I never said "dont buy a thermometer", you as anyone else can do anything that pleases you...

                          Oh, it was not one test sample I have heated milk and tested it now on 7+ ( seperate occassions (so far) and will continue to do so for a week... so far it the lowest has been 58.3 and the highest is 60.7 degrees. The rest falling in the middle somewhere (59s)... (did mention earlier that we are all different in sensitivity... to use thermo as a feedback and its about practice/taste etc.)

                          When making coffee I have found that I like to stay in the moment... perhaps it is a little zen for some but I find the result much better when care is taken and my attention is on what I am doing... occupying myself with the details and the flow of attempting to produce perfection... satifies me and leaves me refreshed. Personally I perfer to use my senses and let them guide my efforts. I appreciate and respect that other have their way and this is the only way it should be... just sharing my experience.

                          Hey one day I might get there but until then I keep doing my best.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Milk temperature

                            Im a little Zen myself after 30 years of martial arts.
                            I tend to concentrate on what Im doing.

                            It also helps that Im now totally deaf in one ear and cant be distracted too easily while Im working the machine.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Milk temperature

                              LiquidHeaven, sorry if I came off a little harsh. I didnt mean that at all, didnt mean to criticize and am sorry if you took it that way. I certainly didnt take any offence in your comments above.

                              Just want to let you know my motivation on making my post. Your posts were followed by Thundergod saying he could save his $16...... I knew TG was new here, and just got the new coffee machine and grinder, and wanted to make sure there was a balanced view on the matter.

                              My comment about the sample size was just based on what you told us. I did statistics in highschool (more years ago than I care to note!), and remember that a sample of 1 is less than useful. If youd told us more, then I wouldnt have made any comment about it.

                              We all have to remember theres so much loss of context on forums like this.... sorry for judging your posts.

                              I fully agree that only experience will help you get reliable results no matter what method you use to judge the temperature. Even the lag on a thermometer can be difficult to pre-empt, and the overshoot can make it hard to be accurate. More and more experience in heating milk, using more than one measurement method (incl sound, sight, thermometers, the taste of the resulting milk, AND touch) will help give you a better feel for when to stop heating the milk. I think the thermo is an excellent learning tool, and its probably an important one to help boost ones knowledge - I found it so, but now dont rely on it.

                              Ive had the pleasure (dubious I know) of working the last two days on a stand at large IT show (similar to the one that Andy is in NZ attending right now, but running in Sydney) and we managed to get a 2-group machine and a fleet of baristii coming through to make coffees for our visitors. They have an interesting approach to milk temperature. Make it HOT. Make it in large jugs. Keep it HOT by putting a saucer over the top of the jug. Its at a very drinkable temperature by the time enough coffees have been poured to empty the jug (5 or 6 coffees or more if people swap between skim/full cream) but for the first few its ridiculously hot. And talk about variable barista skills/care factors. One of the people who spent time on the machine today pulled me a shot that almost filled the cup, before milk was added - my eyes went like this as she took the cup from behind the machine - and it tasted like swill - and the milk was freshly heated (see above). I nicely slipped away and ditched all but the three sips Id had. Ill be wary tomorrow, watch a few extractions before risking one myself.

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