In this second part of the frothy coffee story we look at the 6 Common Reasons Why Milk Froth Collapses
Wrong Type Of Milk
Before anything else, you need to check your milk. Nine times out of ten, the quality of the milk or just using the wrong type of milk can be enough to set you up for failure.
Using the best milk for frothing is your number one priority. Otherwise, everything else is just going to be a waste of time.
You will be chasing the milk around your pitcher with your steam wand, wondering why nothing is happening.
Forget about using Macadamia, Rice, Cashew, or Oat milk; these types are just impossible to froth.
For the best-frothy milk and microfoam, you really need to stick with a full fat dairy milk.
Dairy milk has just the correct ratio of proteins, fats, sugar, and water and yields that velvety microfoam that isn’t overly creamy band as Goldilocks states “ it’s just right”.
Skimmed and semi-skimmed milk is also ok to use, but keep in mind extra work is required to get to the right consistency when frothing.
You will also find that bumping the jug on the countertop a few times helps to pop the larger bubbles and will ultimately create a smoother texture.
Flushing Out Water From The Steam Wand
Due to how the steaming wand functions, some excess water will always be lingering in the nozzle.
Obviously, you don’t want this water in your milk. So before you steam, open the valve and purge any residual water into the drip tray or empty cup.
Once you have finished steaming, the chances are that a small amount of milk will get sucked up inside the steam wand nozzle.
So after each use, make sure to purge the wand again.
This will keep your coffee brewing station smelling fresh, and the last thing you want is old stale milk ending up inside your next batch of foamed milk.
Also, remember to wipe down your machine and the wand regularly as the old milk tends to stick on the wand like super glue.
Holding the Steam Wand Too Low
Where you place the steam wand in the jug could be why your frothed milk keeps collapsing.
If you hear a high-pitched screeching noise, your nozzle is likely to be sitting too low in the jug.
When your nozzle is this low, you will struggle to get a nice rolling current to break up the air in the milk, which is needed to produce a thick and creamy froth.
For best results, you’ll want to hold the tip of your wand just below the surface of the milk.
Holding The Steam Wand Too High
Placing your steam wand too high in your milk will also cause some problems.
Not only will you run the risk of splattering yourself, your machine and your worksurface with milk, but the bubbles will be far too large. And they won’t hold for any amount of time and are definitely not usable for a sweet, creamy latte or cappuccino.
Place your nozzle just below the surface of the milk. If you need to aerate the milk slightly, slowly move the tip up just a little so you can hear an occasional ripping sound.
When you’ve added enough air, move the nozzle down again to just below the surface to get the milk moving. Repeat the process until your milk begins to froth.
No Roll In The Jug
This is another basic mistake I often see.
Moving the steaming nozzle everywhere quickly and giving the milk a chance to roll.
As with most things in life, practice makes perfect. The more you froth milk, the more you will get a feel and a sense of how to move the nozzle around the pitcher jug.
For beginners moving the nozzle slowly around the pitcher in a “W” pattern is an excellent method to get your milk to roll.
Remember, the “roll” helps to break up large bubbles and helps to produce an even creamy consistency.
Incorrect Milk Frothing Temperature
And lastly, overheating your milk will likely cause your milk froth to collapse quickly.
If you find that your pitcher becomes so hot you can’t hold your palm on the base, you’ve overheated your milk.
You have probably seen baristas placing their palm on the bottom of the pitcher, and this is the reason – it gives a basic gauge of the temperature of the milk.
Regular milk starts to burn at 165 degrees, so always try to keep the temperature lower than that. When I’m frothing milk, I aim for around 140 degrees for small drinks and 155 for larger ones.
When you’re just starting out, using a thermometer is a good idea. There are some jugs with built in thermometers specifically or this task.
But keep in mind that there can be some delay with the temperature of the milk and the reading on the thermometer. Your milk could be 5 to 10 degrees hotter than the thermometer shows.
It’s always a let down when your frothed milk immediately deflates in the cup after all the time you’ve spent setting up the machine and rolling your milk around the jug.
There can be many reasons why your frothy milk collapses, but if you follow the above tips and tweak your technique, chances are you’re going to get some fantastic results.
I get it. At first, frothing milk can feel intimidating. There are so many things to keep in mind: temperature, where to place the steam wand in the milk, what type of milk to use, etc., etc.
But don’t overthink it. Practice makes perfect, and you’ve got this!