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Topic: No good foam (19 msgs / 443 lines)
1) From: Fritz Curtis
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The problem is I can not make good cappuccino foam.
I tried to follow the article at sm but it always looks like the bad foam.
The Equipment. pasquini livia auto, it has two steam tips, ???
Milk full fat and 1% have been tried.
I get the stainless frothing pitcher and fill it 1/3 full of milk,
steam away trying to only get air in for a couple of sec and then steam till
140 Degrees.
It always turns out with a little foam on top and a bunch of hot milk down
Although one time part of the foam actually looked good, creamy looking with
very small bubbles,
I need HELP

2) From: Jim Friedlander
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Steaming is complicated, but here's what I do with my Livia 90 (using
the stock plastic tip):
Insert the wand to the bottom of the pitcher.  Turn on steam.  Raise
wand until it is frothing vigorously.  Continue raising wand to "follow"
the milk up until temperature reaches about 90 degrees (F) (30 degrees
C).  Then submerge wand a bit so that the milk "turns."  Continue
heating until desired temp (I go to about 160 F).
Works like a charm...what works even better is the new tip I got for the
Livia, which is a two-hole tip that directs the steam downward at an
angle.  I get perfect mirco-foam virtually every time.
Another tip:  try cooling the pitcher before steaming.  I pour milk in
the pitcher, then put the pitcher in the fridge for a half-hour before
steaming (while the Livia warms up)...
Try, try and try again....
hope this helps,

3) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
I know how you feel, Fritz. I, too, am struggling trying to learn how to
make good micro-foam. The only time I have succeeded in making foam with
ultra-fine bubbles that has the nice velvet-like or silk-like mouth feel and
blends nicely with the coffee, I was always using the following method.
Using fresh, cold 4% milk, I fill the cold straight-wall pitcher about half
way. Before bringing the pitcher under the wand, let some steam out to make
sure there is no water in the wand. Insert the pitcher about half an inch or
less under the surface of the milk, in the center and start the
Stretching -- apply full steam and remain motionless with the tip under the
surface in the center of the pitcher. Go by the sound, listen for the
hissing caused by the air being drawn into the milk. Lower or rise the
pitcher just a little, a millimeter or so, if needed. Make sure no large
bubbles form. When the temperature reaches 100F or little less, start the
"whirlpool" phase. Never exceed 110F during the stretching phase. But do
not end stretching too soon, or you will not have enough of the foam!
Whirlpool -- just before the temperature reaches 100F, lower the wand all
the way down and move it to the edge of the pitcher. Never move the tip of
the wand to the surface of the milk during the whirlpool phase, that will
make huge bubbles and ruin the foam. If the milk does not start moving in
the whirlpool fashion, help it by moving - rotating the pitcher. When the
milk reaches 150F, stop. Never go over 160F!
Often, I find it necessary to keep the pitcher "rotating" while I bring it
to the cup with coffee. Combine the foamed milk with the coffee as soon as
If I need spoon to get the foam out, I goofed. The velvety micro-foamed milk
should pour out freely.
I found the 4% milk the best. With the lower fat milks I can only produce
the undesirable stiff foam on the top of the milk.
I have found that I have more success if I work as fast as possible, and
bring the empty (and dry) pitcher out of the freezer.\
This method is based on recommendations by David Schomer, and is the only
method that gave me nice foamed milk. Unfortunately, I cannot do it
always -- too often, I goof somewhere and I am not sure what prevented the
micro-foam from forming. Some people say that some batches of the milk just
do not foam.
Hopes this helps -- Lubos.
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4) From: Jim Schulman
Hi Fritz,
Many Livia owners give up on the very high speed 4 hole tip that's standard on 
the Livia, and go to a two hole tip instead. These come standard on machines 
from ECM, Isomac, and Wega, and can be screwed on to the Livia. This will slow 
down the frothing process. 
I've tried both. With the 4 hole tip, it's difficult to froth less than 10 
ounces at a time, whereas with the 2 hole tips once can manage 5 to 6 ounces.
Lubos's instructions on frothing with multi-hole tips are excellent. A couple 
of addendums: 1. If you hold one hand to the side of the frothing mug, it'll 
help your fine control and allow you to feel the milk temperature. 110F (when 
you end the frothing and dip the tip to start heating) is warm to the touch; 
150F when you're done is almost too hot to touch. 2. Try to avoid using a 
thermometer, your eyes should be on the tip as it froths. 3. Don't expect the 
milk to double in volume like on a home machine, it will only expand by 20% to 
30%; this in no way impacts on the quality of the microfoam.
On 23 Sep 2002 at 7:07, Fritz Curtis wrote:
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5) From: Isabel1130
I can get good foam with just about anything but you know  what makes the 
best foam of anything I have ever used?  Lactaid. 1 or 2 percent.  Don't know 
what it is that they do to the milk but it is the best cappa milk ever.
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6) From: dewardh
Here's some hints . . . (but no "answers" . . .)
* fat content is only a minor contributor, it's the milk proteins that make the 
"foam".  2% is a good place to start . . .
* milk seems to foam better when it's a little "old" . . .
* only *cold* milk foams well . . . when the milk temperature gets over about 
100 F you'll just get big bubbles
* making foam takes time . . . that's why fewer/smaller holes in the steam tip 
seems to work better . . . there is more time to make foam before the steam 
(less of it) warms the milk, giving more time to *work* the steam around the 
surface of the milk (and you must keep it just *below* the surface . . . 
otherwise you get froth, not foam)
* it's an art . . . even when everything is "just right" it doesn't always work 
.. . .
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7) From: DJ Garcia
I always use skim milk, in my case ultra-pasteurized organic skim milk
from Organic Valley, which is not cheap but keeps for a relatively long
time until opened, and I get great foam every time from my Wega Mininova
EVD. I don't believe the machine is any superior to other high-quality
units as far as steaming goes, in fact I've seen reviews that complain
about steaming small quantities with it, which is what I do, so it must
be the milk :-)
Although I wonder if nozzle positioning has something to do with it.
Mine looks about 30 deg from vertical.
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8) From: DJ Garcia
My Wega Mininova's steam wand has only one hole - maybe that explains
it. I believe there was a recent change in the Wega's steam wand, the
shape used to be more like a deep S and now is more like a shallow kink
- maybe that's when they went to a single hole tip. Cheers!
Jim Schulman wrote:
Many Livia owners give up on the very high speed 4 hole tip that's
standard on 
the Livia, and go to a two hole tip instead. These come standard on
from ECM, Isomac, and Wega, and can be screwed on to the Livia. This
will slow 
down the frothing process.
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9) From: Jim Schulman
Oops. Thanks for the correction. With all the musical tips people are playing 
to find just the right one, I must of lost track what originally goes with what.
On 23 Sep 2002 at 21:38, DJ Garcia wrote:
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10) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
"I always use skim milk ... and I get great foam every time from my Wega
Mininova" wrote DJ.
That is very interesting, DJ. I think that I tried a skim milk just once and
got terrible stiff foam that was just floating like a blob on the watery
part of the milk. Perhaps the "ultra-pasteurized organic skim milk from
Organic Valley" has different properties from "regular" skim milk?
I will look for the Organic Valley milk -- I am not sure if it is available
here.  But if that is THE secret for consistent micro-foamed steamed milk,
it will be worth the extra money.
Has anybody else been successful in making nice micro-foamed steamed milk
from ultra-pasteurized organic low-fat milk? Although I can't understand why
"organic" should give it the micro-foaming capability. But perhaps I am
missing something.
Regards, Lubos.
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11) From: Jim Schulman
Hi Lubos,
On 23 Sep 2002 at 21:00, you wrote,
Low fat and two percent milk do make foaming easier. The only question is why anyone would want to spoil 
their coffee with the stuff, even if it were microfoamed.
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12) From: John
Cold Skim milk worked best for me too - but soy milk does a very
respectable job - however the microfoam breaks down much faster with the
soy milk (when I do it anyway).
On Mon, 2002-09-23 at 20:28, DJ Garcia wrote:
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13) From: John
I would! I drink 95% of my coffee black - but a macciato ( I don't spell
well in English so Italian is hopeless) is great now and then. Its a
different taste - and good. I find that most of our female visitors like
lattes - chocolate Mokas etc over straight coffee - so that's what I
make them.
On Mon, 2002-09-23 at 21:07, Jim Schulman wrote:
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14) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
"The only question is why anyone would want to spoil their coffee with the
stuff, even if it were microfoamed," asked Jim.
Perhaps because pouring a nice Rosetta or Heart on the top of a cappuccino
is the mark of a home roaster who really cares not only about the smell and
taste, but also about the look and mouth feel of the coffee?
I must learn how to do it not only once in many dozens of tries -- and I
never managed a "nice" design :-(
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15) From: R.N.Kyle
I know I'm new to this area of home roasting and brewing styles. I =
thought the steam wan on the Gusto with the frothing attachment did a =
real good job, using whole milk and a chilled stainless steel pitcher.
Ron Kyle
Anderson SC

16) From: Jeffrey A. Bertoia
I don't seem to have any problem getting microfoam with low fat / 
skimmed milk.  The only
issue that I have with it is that it seems to stiffen more and very 
quickly while standing.
Example, if I am making two double cappas and froth the milk either as 
the first one is pouring
or between them.  Whole milk will usually pour well into both but low 
fat / skimmed milk will
be too stiff for the second one.
Irene and Lubos Palounek wrote:
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17) From: Richard Estes
I worked at my towns most famous coffee house for about a year. (Tony's
Coffee)It started out as a relatively small coffeehouse, but eventually they
purchased a large coffee roaster and began offering many different types of
beans fresh roast.  This was the time in my life but I really fell in love
with coffee.  I remember in the evening when the roasting was all finished
there would be several bins of still warm coffee and I would stand over them
and just inhale deeply with my eyes closed...............
aaaaahhhhhhhh.......  Well I don't have to tell you, you know what it's
Anyway the way I learned to make a good cappuccino foam is that, first
realize that the higher fat product you use the more foam you'll get ...
think about whipping cream.  It also takes a machine with good pressure to
produce good foam.  Move the steam wand around until the milk gets warm, I
learned to keep my hand on the outside of the container to judge the warmth
of the milk.  When the milk gets quite warm bring the tip of the steam wand
to the very surface of the milk and keep the tip at the very surface of the
milk.  Not the surface of the foam,  the surface of the liquid milk.  The
steam will blow air down into the milk causing the foam to be created.
You'll never be able to foam an entire picture of milk as there will always
be some liquid at the bottom.  You need to scoop the foam off the top of the
milk into the cup.  Just get a gallon and practice practice practice. ;-)
By the way, I wanted to thank those of you who gave me the information about
my heating problem in the SL 90.  I e-mailed Jodi at baratza and she
e-mailed me the very next day with complete instructions and photographs of
how to adjust the temperature on the SL 90.  So I do have it and will gladly
passed on to anyone who wants a copy.
Thanks Baratza!!
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18) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
are you telling us that your method used in "Tony's Coffee" store produced
the desirable micro-foam we are discussing here, not just some stiff foam
floating on the top of the milk? If you made micro-foam, why do you say that
"...you need to scoop the foam off the top of the milk into the cup." I
thought that is one thing you usually do not do with micro-foam.
If your method really makes good micro-foam, I have to try it! I know it
takes time to learn how to make the foam; I bought third gallon of milk just
to keep learning.
Regards, Lubos
BTW, thank you, Jim, for an excellent description of the proper milk foam. I
have saved it in my "Coffee Basics" as "Microfoam definition by Jim
Schulman."  Thank again for all your help!
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19) From: Angelo
I've used ultra-pasteurized, non-organic,  whole milk (Parmalat) with 
excellent results. It also seems to keep longer even AFTER it is opened..
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