Tagged "Milk Texturing"

How to Brew the Perfect: Flat White

Posted by Matthew Patrick McLauchlan on

The Espresso

The espresso shot forms the foundation for a great cup, and without a well-executed espresso, the final beverage can fall flat on its face (not the ‘Flat’ that we’re after).

Like a lot of things in life, making espresso is as much art as it is science, but relies heavily on a recipe to reach a consistent result.

The main goal of this standard recipe is to reach a desired result, whilst controlling the myriad of variables that go into the making of espresso.

As an example, here’s a ‘Common’ espresso recipe;

  • Dose In – 22g of Ground Coffee
  • Dose Out – 38g of Espresso
  • Ratio – 1:1.7
  • Extraction Time – 28sec

The Milk

As with the espresso, a lot of attention must be paid to the milk preparation as part of the finished beverage.

Temperature, both at start and finish is critical when preparing milk.

Starting with very cold is imperative to give you ample time for controlled texturing, with the proteins in the milk coming together a trapping air to create a silky, micro-foam texture.

For a Flat White, the amount of foam is important, adding a small amount of foam on top to create some textural contrast, stabilize the beverage as it’s being carried and to create a beautiful pattern on top.

Finishing on the correct temperature is also important, as the milk should be hot enough to ensure that those looking for a wake-me-up in the morning are satisfied, but not too hot as to scald the milk or inhibit the flavours present in the espresso.

The Finished Product

Often overlooked, the ration of espresso to milk is one of the key differences between a Flat White and other milk beverages.

We serve our Flat Whites as a more punchy beverage, with a 1:5 espresso to milk ratio in the cup ensuring the characteristics of our espresso remain intact and translate well through the milk.

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Home Brewer: Cafe in Your Kitchen - Part Three

Posted by Stella Cochrane on

So now you have your machine up and running and can pull a mean espresso shot it time to turn our attention to the thing that everyone wants to try - Latte Art! We are going to look at creating the Rosetta, a fern or leaf shaped pattern, which is the most well known and often the most difficult design to master. Here we are going to run through the process step by step, so you can try it at home.

Common man coffee roasters milk texturing latte art

So you’re getting consistently good shots of espresso and you’ve mastered your milk steaming with silky consistency. But all your challenges are not surmounted! Increasingly in cafes around Singapore, patterns and designs are flowing onto the surfaces of coffees — while everyone around you is happily enjoying the filigreed designs, your frustration builds as you get no closer to achieving more that what your friends and family fondly refer to as your ‘abstract phase’. Well it’s time for that to change — below are some tips and pointers for getting you closer to giving birth to your first Rosetta.

My first prefacing statement would be that without a good set of shots as the base for your coffee, there’s no way you’re going to be able to achieve great latte art, let alone a good tasting coffee: so get those shots right! Remember: once your face gets close enough for the first sip, no-one can see the latte art anyway!

Secondly, you really need to have mastered your milk texturing before attempting your Rosetta. If your milk is lumpy, airy, too foamy, not foamy enough or not folded together thoroughly, you’re going to have all kinds of problems as you try to pour.

Another important factor is the spout on your milk jug (something that you generally only learn after purchasing 37 different milk jugs to find — the right one). Make sure that your milk jug has a clearly defined spout — check out our Incasa Milk Jugs we’ve got in stock: one of the reasons we chose these jugs is that they’re great for latte art. A spout with no point or one that has a big lip at the edge will disperse your milk widely, restricting you from any fine detail.

Alright — you know what you’re aiming for and you’ve prepared your shots. For the Rosetta, you want to steam your milk as if for a flat white — much thicker than this and there will be no definition to your design. Once you’ve steamed your milk (check out last month’s Café in your Kitchen — Part II article if you’re not sure about this), you’re ready to roll!

Begin pouring straight into the center, keeping the jug low to the cup. Begin with quite a slow pour to help stabilise the crema in the cup.

common man coffee roasters latte art guide

Once you’re around 1/3 of the way up the cup, move the jug so you’re pouring towards the back and start slightly shaking or ‘jiggling’ the jug side to side to throw the foam forward.

common man coffee roasters latte art guide

Once the foam has marked the surface of the crema, continue that same shaking or swaying motion while moving the pour backwards through the cup. Upon reaching the front of the cup, pour in a straight line toward the back of the cup, through the lines you’ve previously created. Your swaying motion will create the leaves of the Rosetta with the final pull through creating the stem.

You can then start practising doing fancy things like this:

common man coffee roasters guide to latte art

Alright — that’s a step by step walk through but just a few more tips:

  • Always make sure that the tip of your milk jug spout is as close to the surface of the milk as possible (pour low).
  • Once you’ve shaken the white to the surface, use a fairly slow swaying motion to create the leaves — don’t zig-zag but rather rotate just your wrist.
  • Try with a large cup to begin with — more surface area = more canvas.
  • Always attempt to have only as much steamed milk as you need in the jug: too much milk and the angle of your pour towards the end will still be too low.

So with these tips, hopefully you’re closer to achieving that great finish to your coffees, and always remember: the espresso base and texture of your milk are the most important factors — latte art is the icing on the cake!

Visit the Common Man Coffee Roasters online shop for all your home barista equipment needs!

If you want more hands-on practice and tuition in latte art, sign up for a Latte Art Class at the CMCR Academy, details of all our classes and how to book.

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Home Brewer: Cafe in Your Kitchen - Part Two

Posted by Stella Cochrane on

Last time we looked at setting up your espresso machine and extracting the perfect shot of the first time. Now we must turn our attention to the often most problematic area for a budding home, or indeed a professional barista.

Milk texturing: it’s often the difference between a sweet coffee and one that is better poured down the sink. Once you’ve mastered the art of pulling a perfect shot, you need to get to work on developing your milk texturing technique.

Even if your preference is a short black, the shiny machine on your benchtop is going to attract plenty of visitors, all prepared to self-sacrifice and ‘let you practice’ on them. So you’re going to have to learn to texture milk, either for yourself or to show off to your guests.

You should always prepare your espresso shots first — the steamed milk holds the majority of the heat of your drink and if you steam first, the milk will lose temperature while you’re pulling your shot, and the foam and milk will also separate.

I am often asked “which milk is best for steaming?”. The answer, like many things in specialty coffee, is that this is largely a matter of personal choice. Common Man is very loyal in it's milk usage, and we give our customers full cream milk, unless specifically requested, because its creaminess complements coffee’s natural flavours; but the choice is really yours. As I say time and time again experimentation is key to perfection, so try different brands and varieties to discover which you like best.

You’ll notice that I keep referring to the ‘texture of the milk’. What I mean by this is basically the integration of the milk and foam, and the density of the bubbles. What you’re aiming to achieve is generally called ‘micro-foam’ — a foam with almost imperceptible air bubbles, a glossy sheen on top and a creamy, dense texture.

CMCR Milk Texturing

Although you’re not using the same quantity of milk as your local café, it’s still a good idea to make sure you don’t have too much milk left over after pouring your drinks to minimise waste. You can often use the inside of the spout on your 1L milk jug to measure how much milk is needed. For two traditional cappuccino sized cups (around 220‐250ml), fill cold milk to 1cm below this spout — we’re aiming for 1cm or less of milk leftover. You’ll learn how much milk to use pretty quickly with practice.

Milk steaming can be summarised in two steps — the Stretching Phase and the Rolling Phase. In the stretching phase, you need to position the steam wand tip right on the surface of the milk so that you can hear the distinctive “tch, tch, tch” or hissing sound. This sound indicates that you’re injecting air into the milk to create foam. During this process you’ll see the volume of your milk rise, hence the ‘Stretching’ title. Continue to lower the milk jug very slowly so that you continue hearing the same stretching sound, and create more foam. The more slowly you lower the jug, and the more gently you introduce air to the milk, the denser your foam will be. This will avoid those nasty, sea-foam-like air bubbles that uneducated baristas still produce.

Once you’ve created enough foam for your drinks, or if the jug is feeling too hot to hold comfortably, you should move into the second, Rolling Phase of the milk texturing process. Raise the jug till you no longer hear the stretching sound, submerging the steam wand approximately 1cm below the surface of the milk. Angle the jug slightly so that the steam pushes the milk around the jug in a whirlpool. This phase combines the milk and foam, and heats the milk to a good serving temperature.

CMCR Milk Texturing Rolling

To create a foamy drink like a cappuccino, stretch the milk for a longer amount of time. For a thinner milk drink like a flat white, you should only hear the stretching sound for a couple of seconds before submerging the steam wand tip in the milk.

In relation to temperature, for those using a milk steaming thermometer, cease the Stretching Phase at around 45C and turn off your steam wand at around 60C. The temperature of the milk will continue to rise to around 65C after you’ve turned off the steam wand. If you’re not using a thermometer, keep one hand under the milk jug, and stop the Stretching Phase when the jug becomes too hot to comfortably keep your hand underneath, then count to 15 before turning off the steam wand. Obviously, different home espresso machines will heat milk at different speeds, depending on their internal components. For example, we’ve found the Isomac range of espresso machines require a count to eight to bring the milk to a good serving temperature.

Once you’ve finished steaming, lower the jug and immediately wipe the steam wand with a damp cloth to remove all milk. Push the steam wand in towards the drip tray and turn the steam back on for a quick pulse to remove any milk that may be inside the wand.

To burst any larger bubbles on the surface of your milk, tap the jug a couple of times on the bench. Finally (and this is one of the most important steps, so don’t be tempted to skip it!) swirl the milk within your jug to fold in the foam that you’ve created. Initially, the surface of the milk in your jug is likely to look quite matt. Roll the milk up the sides of your jug until the contents turn shiny and glossy on top.

Once the milk and foam are well mixed together, keep the jug low to the cup and pour the foamy milk in one even pour on top of your espresso shot. If pouring more than one coffee from a jug, always pour the drink you want to be foamiest first and give the jug a quick swirl before pouring subsequent coffees.

After pouring your coffees, aim to have a minimal amount of wastage left over, allowing you to quickly rinse out the inside of your milk jug so that next time you can start with fresh, cold milk. Do NOT attempt to re-steam milk! This is one of the biggest mistakes an uneducated barista can make, you have already changed the chemical make up of the milk and will produce bitter, burnt tasting coffee if you attempt to re-steam. Just say no.

Those are the tips that should get you well on your way to producing velvety, smooth milk every time. Invite your friends and family over and use them as your guinea pigs to hone your skills — but be careful, no doubt they’ll be inviting themselves around shortly to ask for another couple of ‘test coffees’!

Next time we will be honing these skills and looking at creating some amazing latte art.

If you’re serious about coffee and want to hone your espresso making skills with a hands-on workshop, sign up for our Skills for the Home Barista class where you can hone your skills with the helping hands of our talented trainers.

Finally, don't forget you can shop for all your brewing requirements including gear, beans and more from the comfort of your own home using our online store - #getbrewingwithcmcr!

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