How to make frothed milk for cappuccino

A video containing some pointers for making cappuccino froth, unfortunately its only in Dutch but you’ll get the gist of it by watching the process.

Goal is to ‘thicken’ the milk with air bubbles. Milk consists mainly of proteins (moslty whey proteins)and fats. The protein heated by the steam solidify unfolds (denatures) and form a stable film around the air to create bubbles (proteins work like an emulsifier of water and air, similar as soap with oil and water). The fats will tend to inhibit and then break down the foaming process. Thus it is easier to make foam with skimmed milk than with whole milk. Although fat is inhibiting foam growth it is preferred for the taste and texture of the coffee.

note: not sure about the role of fat, since with ice cream the fat destabilization/agglomeration helps trap the air

A few important notes are:

  • Cold milk and can
  • Clean the nozzle by letting out steam (before and after)
  • Don’t hold the nozzle to far from the milks surface since this will only create bubbles instead of heating the milk
  • A few ticks on the can to disperse of irregularities / bubbles
  • Don’t pour the froth on top of the espresso but try to get underneath it and move around with the can to create nice figures
  • Feel temperatures with your hand to get a sense of timing
  • Pasteurized milk froths less than UHT milk where more proteins are denatured
  • Italians only drink cappuccino in the early morning (if you ever end up in Rome do as the romans do)
  • Practice makes perfect!

For just 1 cup at home, I put the milk directly in my cup, froth it and then make the espresso.

Please feel free to leave any tips, questions or comments!

More background info:

A bit off-topic but on a scientific side note: How cappuccino froth is like a superconductor

Update 1:

I’ve just got a new cappuccino machine which makes making good froth childsplay! The Princess Caffè Italiano has a special build in froth appliance which automatically mixes the steam with the milk. Basically it sucks the milk up a small tube and injects the steam-air mixture at the top nozzle which allows for optimal exposure, mixing and heat transfer of the milk resulting in a perfect froth! I found my new favorite household appliance! (sorry toaster!)

Update 2:

Seen at my friends place Nespresso De Aeroccino, a machine specifically build for making froth:
Watch the youtube video (in dutch)  here: Downside is its ridiculous price tag of 90 euro’s but its definitely on my wish list.

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