Silky, glossy, well textured milk is the secret to making the perfect latte. Let a barista walk you through the steps to making the perfect milk for the perfect latte. First you must heat up the steamer wand located on your coffee machine. The aim of this step is to achieve a creamy, velvety consistency to the milk. It’s best to use full cream milk – the organic local stuff – in order to achieve this. For a perfect latte, pour enough milk into a stainless steel jug until it reaches the start of the pouring dip in the jug. The milk has to be cold and fresh.
The next step is to place the steam wand approx. 2cm in from jug and no more than 1cm beneath the surface of the jug. Turn the steam wand on and adjust the jug with you hand until you hear the milk “hissing” or in other words expanding. When the milk begins to expand, it must be going in a counter clockwise motion around the jug allowing small bubbles to form. The bubbles should not be big. Once the milk has been expanded enough (remember 1cm foam) and has reached a temperature of 80ºF, bring the steam wand into the centre of the jug and continue the spinning motion until the milk reaches 150-160ºF. NOTE: the milk must no longer be expanding during this time. An easy way to get the final temperature right without having to use a thermometer is to hold the milk jug until it becomes too hot to hold.
After stopping the steam, place the milk jug on a bench and use a wet cloth to clean the wand. Next you must bang the jug onto the bench several times which allows the bubbles to rise to the top of the jug. Swirl the milk vigorously for 30 seconds in a clockwise motion and further bang the jug onto the bench until there a no bubbles remaining. This allows there to be no separation between milk and foam making it much easier to pour in the following step. You know you have texturized the milk correctly when the milk is sweet, silky and has a glossy appearance.
Sounds complicated, but it is a relaxing and almost zen-like process once you have made quite a few lattes. From here it is as simple as pouring your perfectly textured milk into a latte glass and putting your artistic talents to work!