I make a lot of espresso-based, milk drinks every day. A thermometer is an essential tool, not to use with every pitcher of milk I steam, but as a self-calibration tool. You can quickly and easily calibrate yourself to any machine and your preferred/target drink temperature by simply following the steps below.
- Start steaming a pitcher of milk and put your hand on the side as it steams.
- When you cannot keep your hand on the side of the pitcher, due to the heat, turn the steam off.
- Check the temperature of your milk with a calibrated thermometer. That is your ‘baseline’ temperature.
- Let’s say that you want a 140 degree milk temp and your baseline temperature is 135 degrees. Now steam another pitcher and count one second after you remove your hand, due to temperature.
- Check the temperature of the milk and repeat the above step as necessary until you work out how long you have to either add on (most likely) or subtract to your steam time to achieve your desired temperature.
You now have your parameters to reach the perfect temperature milk (e.g. for 150 degrees, count 2 seconds after your baseline temp) so as long as you are on the same machine you can always hit the temp without the aid of a thermometer!
I prefer this method as I find thermometers can get in the way when steaming - especially smaller pitchers - and I find thermometers operate with a lag so this is just easier, and once you are used to it, more accurate.
Every week or so, be sure check your recipe to ensure that you are still calibrated.
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