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How Good Can a Breville 800 Get On Milk Foaming?

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  • How Good Can a Breville 800 Get On Milk Foaming?

    Hi All,

    I have a Breville 800 which I am using to try and learn a bit about making decent coffee before I save up enough coin to upgrade to something shiny and beautiful. Before anyone says it, yes I know it isn't an ideal machine but I got it for $5 at my local council tip shop with all the baskets, tamper, and jug. Can't get started much cheaper than that I don't think!

    Just wondering, how good does this machine actually get on milk foaming? I'm using it without the foam enhancer and have scoured this forum for threads about how to use it better. I've gotten myself a nice thermometer and have managed to get a nice whirlpool going by positioning the wand at the side of the jug and holding it at a bit of an angle, no big bubbles, appropriate "ch ch ch" noises, and end up with something that looks quite glossy and nice to my somewhat untrained eye. It's certainly better than I expected to get with this machine after reading all the scathing narrative about it on here

    Are there any secret tricks I'm missing?? Guess I'm wondering if there's anything else I should read up on or if anyone knows of a particularly good Youtube vid about milk work pitched at this level of machine? I spent a good hour this afternoon watching videos but find it difficult to find a really food one.

    Any resources that are particularly worth me delving into? I'd appreciate the benefit of knowledge here as I have an 8 month old baby and today was unusual in that I actually had opportunity to spend time researching whilst she slept.

  • #2
    -learning how the steam acts at the stages of the steam cycle
    -adjusting tip location to vary results
    -probably more things

    because it's a pump actuated steam pressure system, the steam will start out weak and then build up to a good flow. the key (which you seem to understand anyway) is to not try and get any decent microfoam or texturing done until the steam is at full pressure otherwise it'll just suck a ton of air into the stream and create big bubbles. this is when the steamer makes the really high pitched squeaky noise that i'm sure you've heard.
    the "ch-ch-ch" sound is where decent foam is made, ideally you don't want to hear anything, just a smooth "shhhhhhhhhhhh" noise. at least that's what i find on my 820.

    i judge whether it's too noisy or not by if i can talk to someone at the table about 1.5 metres away and can hear them properly :P

    i also like to start out with the wand nearer to the edge of the jug to create the whirlpooling and increase the milk volume, and then bringing the wand back towards the centre of the jug after it's settled down and is sounding quiet. i find that this helps to eliminate the dead zone that whirlpools create just behind the wand that you may have noticed.
    i notice it often, the milk will look great when it's spinning but just behind the wand where you don't usually look there can be a small patch of dodgy looking foam. this can sometimes wreck an otherwise good looking jug of milk. but by moving the wand into the centre it reduces the dead zone and stops the foam from gathering there.

    anyway, they are some of the things that i've noticed on my 820. i've made coffees on my friends 800 and found it awkward using such a thin steam arm compared to mine but it still went ok.
    above all though, practice is the key, so keep at it.


    • #3
      Thanks very much I will try out moving the wand into the centre once the volume has increased a wee bit - I still feel a bit "all fingers and thumbs" when I'm using the steam wand, so clearly I do have lots of practising to get the very best out of my machine. I'll also research the steam and tip location and have a bit of a play about.

      I did notice that the steam wand made heaps of noise when I first used it but I seem to have mostly eliminated that - reminded me of my first ever job in a british cafe when I was 15 and we used an old 1950s steamer to heat through filter coffee!


      • #4
        Hello Kirsty, I'm far from expert at foaming milk, and I must confess that when I'm feeling a bit slack, I use the microwave to heat the milk, and foam it with a little battery powered whisk.

        It seems to me that you are already doing quite well, however somebody once gave me the following advice, which helped me at the time, and for what it's worth I'll pass it on.

        Because there are so many variables, these are general principles rather than details.

        It helps to think of the process as happening in two stages.

        The first is when you introduce the air into the milk with the tip of the wand closer to the surface and nearer the side, to create your whirlpool. The vortex is deep enough to reach the tip, and you can hear it sucking the air in.

        Once we have enough volume, the second stage is to work that air into the milk. From here on in we want little or no more air, so move the tip deeper and/or closer to the centre so that there is till some whirlpool happening, but it is no longer reaching the tip of the wand and not sucking any more air in.

        I know that is all a bit vague, and not much different from what noidle22 has already said, but thinking about it in this way worked for me.

        Cheers, Leo.

        P.S. Don't tell anyone else about the whisk - it could get me branded as a heretic.
        Last edited by leograyson; 7 October 2012, 12:05 AM. Reason: grammar


        • #5
          My thanks Leo!! I've already seen an improvement following noidle22's advice, paying closer attention to the "quiet" position of the wand has helped. I will try your advice next time, I had been wondering about whether there were different stages to the process and that seems quite simple to follow. All this experimenting will give me a serious caffeine problem, I think I might just have to buy a massive bottle of cheap milk and keep pouring it away.

          Your whisk secret is safe with me.... never fear. I am the absolute epitome of discretion


          • #6
            "I might just have to buy a massive bottle of cheap milk and keep pouring it away"

            Don't chuck it out - put it in a jug, back into the fridge, and have it on your weeties tomorrow morning


            • #7
              LOL, I can't have milk on my cereal any more - trying to offset all these flat whites I can't stop consuming

              P.S. Just had my best milk result yet, thanks