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Thread: What am I doing wrong???

  1. #1
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    What am I doing wrong???

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Im new to latte art and reaching the point where I need some advice... Im trying to create latte art quality micro foam from my full cream Masters Pura UHT milk but cant seem to get it right.

    Im using a Silvia with all the original fittings. My technique is as follows:
    1. Make espresso then wait for boiler light to turn off
    2. Switch on the steam button (boiler turns on)
    3. Bleed about 50 ml of water
    4. Pour milk from the fridge into a 600ml milk jug ( for 2 cups of coffee - just up to the bottom of the spout I guess abt 250ml)
    5. Open the steam valve until dry steam is coming out (usually about 30-40 seconds after I hit the steam switch - step 2)
    6. Sink the nozzle into the milk off-centre at an angle to get the whirlpool action (so that nozzle is just under milk)
    7. Open Steam to full power ( about 3/4 turn)
    8. Lift nozzle up until the tip is just touching or below the surface of the milk
    9. Feel the milk getting hot then depending of the volume I either sink the tip into the milk or keep it on the surface for another 5-10 secs
    10. Turn off steam

    Results at best is good enough to pour an apple or heart but not really microfoam for latte art? Also when I pour 2 cups the foam distribution is not even, there is more foam in the first cup compared with the second.

    I think my problem is related to the positioning of the steam tips while steaming.

    A lot of people say the nozzle tip should be 1/2 inch below the surface - I try that and I dont get much foam and dont get much volume. With the nozzle below the surface it just seems to heat the milk.

    When the nozzle is just touch above the surface of the milk I get heaps of foam and can easily double the volume with cappacino quality suds.

    Where should the steam tip be for the Silvia and does the position/angle make or break things?

    The other observation is that the milk is not "textured" in that the milk and foam are separate when I have finished steaming. I tap and swirl to get it all mixed up but still end up with way more foam in the first cup I pour. How can I correct this?

    Love to get advice from other Silvia users b/c this machine is capable of a lot more...


  2. #2
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    Re: What am I doing wrong???

    Hi thomm0,

    Latte art can be tricky and generally just takes LOTS of practice but the key is silky milk! It soundsl like youre doing most things right. Some key points before I start: must use cold milk, must complete stretching whilst the milk is cold. I will just go down step by step based on your points:

    1 - 4: No problem here
    5. Just purge the steam wand - 3 - 4 seconds is fine
    6. Sink the steam nozzel under the surface of the milk about 1cm from the edge of the jug ( you want to think about creating a whirlpool once stretching is done) you may need to angle the jug.
    7. Open the steam valve about 1/8 turn and lower the jug slowly until you hear the stretching sound (the nozzle should only just break the surface of the milk). The silvia has quite powerful steaming capabilities so 5 seconds or so (in a 400ml jug) and you should have enough foam for a cap/latte. As the foam is being created, the level of the milkl is rising so you may need to keep lowering your jug to keep the nozzle on the surface of the milk.
    ** You want to try to finish your streching BEFORE the jug starts to feel warm - once the milk is warm, if you continue stretching you will get big bubbles that just refuse to pop!**
    8. Once stretching is complete (or the jug is starting to feel warm) sink the nozzle under the surface of the milk (and try not to let it break the surface again!) - now we are heating the milk - you can turn the steam valve up now if you want to. this is where the whirlpool is important, it will keep the foam and milk combined throughout the heating process.
    9. When the milk is at desired temperature, turn off the steam.
    10. Give the milk a couple of seconds for any bubbles to rise to the surface and give the jug a couple of taps on the bench (flat) and swirl the jug to combine foam/milk.

    Now that you have silky milk ;) we can move on to pouring. If you want to evenly distribute the foam and get art on each cup you will need to split the milk. Take your 2 cup jug of milk you just stretched which is nice and blended and tip off the excess foam (maybe 1/4 of whats in your jug) into a second jug/cup/glass - set this excess aside.

    Take your jug and pour your first coffee from start to finish.

    Tip your excess back into the original jug and blend - now you can pour your second coffee from start to finish.

    ** If you dont split, and you pour one coffee then the second - all the foam ends up in the first coffee poured, leaving none for the second - if art doesnt matter, you can half pour each coffee and then top them up to evenly distribute foam.

    Key points:

    Start with cold milk
    Strech whilst milk is cold
    Silvia has better steaming capabilities than you think - 4-5 seconds in a small jug is enough for a cap/latte
    Split the milk before pouring for even distribution.

    I hope this helps!! Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need more tips - sometimes its easier to explain something over the phone than in text...

    Good luck
    Deb
    9904 0409


  3. #3
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    Re: What am I doing wrong???

    Thanks for the detailed analysis of my steaming process! Looks like I have plenty of tips to try - Ill keep you post on the results - THANKS!

  4. #4
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    Re: What am I doing wrong???

    It works much better when I stretch for shorter time. Ive also discovered that I get nicer texture and more consistent texture throughout the milk if I dont let the steam tip break the surface of the milk. I try to get it a close as possible to the surface with out breaking it. Is this right - or should the tip break the surface to properly stretch the milk?

    Without breaking the surface Im not getting much volume, the milk expands about 20%. If I start with a 600ml jug slightly more than 1/2 filled it expands to less than 2/3 full.

    Whats the right ratio for milk exapnsion? Ive seen some instructions mention that for lattes the volume should expand 40-50 %

    I can easily get that type of expansion once I let the tip break the surface but then I seem to lose the quality in the texture.

    Im making progress but still looks like more practice for me.

  5. #5
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    Re: What am I doing wrong???

    The tip needs to actually break the surface of the milk, but only just! If you are not breaking the surface of the milk you are heating rather than stretching. In a 600ml jug for 2 coffees I would fill it to just below the bottom of the spout. For 2 lattes or caps it would end up being about 2cm above that when Im finished. Aim for 25-30% for lattes - a latte should have about 1cm of foam after its poured - so if you are doing 2 lattes from a 600ml jug you only need a couple of cm of foam - about 8-10 seconds stretching. You can start here and just add a couple of seconds if you find you dont get enough foam.

    If you try to put the jug on an angle when you stretch you will get a more gentle stretch.

    Practice is the key - Once you get it youll wonder what was so tricky in the first place!!

    Deb

  6. #6
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    Re: What am I doing wrong???

    Yep you need to get some air into the milk to make foam, but its important that it doesnt just sit on the surface like a lilypad but that it gets mixed in, so what you end up with is a jug full of aerated milk as opposed to a jug full of hot milk with meringue on top. Thats the essence of the whirlpool. Also you may want to try something other than UHT, its not that you cant do it with UHT but Ive found this doesnt give as good results (in terms of texture or taste) as fresh full cream milk so you may as well make it as easy as possible for yourself when youre starting! ;)

    For technique, just google latte art videos or something, Im sure theres a squazillion on YouTube or similar. It can be a bit hard to describe in words especially since it tends to all happen quite quickly. If youre keen you could always post us some videos somewhere of what youre doing so we can diagnose.

    Greg

  7. #7
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    Re: What am I doing wrong???

    I definitely would not use UHT. From my experience, I could not get any froth from it. Although, it was skim UHT milk.

    Also, be wary that some of the milk around at the moment is not that great. Something to do with what the cows are eating, or something like that. This apparently can happen at certain times of the year, and, a lack of protein in the milk makes it more difficult to get good micro foam.

    I spent a couple of weeks swearing and carrying on thinking there was something wrong with the steam valve or technique. I normally use Pauls Smarter White milk with much success, however, I canít get any froth at all with some of their recent batches. ANyway, good luck with it all thomm0

  8. #8
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    Re: What am I doing wrong???

    I often found the organic milk much easier to stretch compared to the normal milk like pure/ pauls.
    Farmhouse is another good option and for the start, probably stick with full cream...

  9. #9
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    Re: What am I doing wrong???

    Quote Originally Posted by JetBlack Espresso link=1214987750/0#4 date=1216097851
    Practice is the key - Once you get it youll wonder what was so tricky in the first place!!

    Deb
    Never truer words "spoken". I was a bit all over the place and put it down to starting on a VBM Super...-...FAST! I wasnt really practicing as such, but about 4 times per day at coffee time I was into it making my flat white. Then it sort of just happened. For me the trick was getting the powerful wand pointing almost straight down - just the "chh, chh" like many have described. Where I was going wrong was getting juuuust enough air in before the temp ramped up to 30ish C so I could spend the second half "rolling" the milk. Once I "got it" I wondered what the hell was so difficult too. Now I hardly think about it, and Im only into my third week of solid ownership. Get small bubbles of "chh, chh" in to about 35 C then sink the wand about half the full tips length into the fluid so it rolls - or whirlpools - depending on your viewpoint, up to about 60ish C then stop. I get this lovely silky sheen with few or no discernable bubbles. The beverage takes on a velvety quality and the coffee taste shines through it.

    What I found with an order for a cappa is I have to be a little more aggressive in the "chh, chh" phase to ensure I get a bit more foam and a tad more strength to the foam.

    But it is true, once it happens it is a bit like riding a bike.

    The next frustration is trying to pour pretty art...that bit for the time being is one of the great mysteries to me. My attempts are only art if abstract is allowed... :D



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