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Topic: Microfoam? Eh? (7 msgs / 182 lines)
1) From: Dana Kaempen
OK, please explain:  what in the Sam Hill is "microfoam"?  Just when I
think I'm getting a handle on this roasting/brewing/espresso thing, up
pops something which makes me take a second look at a process I thought
was working just splendidly.  Does one use the same frothing techique
that they're used to, but use good ol' Vit D instead of my standard skim
(skinny?) milk?  Gad, I could use an espresso about now...
Confused & enjoying Key Lime Margaritas,
"Keep the wheels rolling." - Anonymous traffic prophet
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2) From: Jim Schulman
Dana, It's when the foam and milk don't separate into a stiff foam floating atop liquid 
milk. Rather, the entire jug is filled with a foam whose bubbles are too small to see, 
and which pours like a liquid.
The usual instruction for achieving this is to froth with the tip as close to the surface 
as possible without "blowing bubbles," and to create either a whirlpool or turbulence 
pattern in the milk (whirlpool with one hole tips, turbulence with multihole ones). 
Secondly, to stop frothing when the milk-jug gets warm to the touch, and dip the tip to 
heat the milk until it gets almost too hot to touch. Finally, the jug is swirled and 
knocked against the counter to get out any stray bubbles. The drink should be poured 
immediately after frothing to preserve the texture. 
If everything is right, the foam mixes with the crema and espresso to create a creamy 
drink with nothing floating on top. For customers who insist on a cap to their cappa, the 
barrista will hold back the surface while pouring with a spoon, and carefully spoon some 
of the held back soft froth on top of the drink.
A properly made microfoam folds gradually into the espresso as it's poured. Skilled 
pourers can exploit this to create latte art patterns by pouring until a white spot 
surfaces, then zig zagging the pour over the spot.
Hope this all confuses you less than I me, Jim
On 24 Sep 2002 at 0:30, Dana Kaempen wrote:
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3) From: JKG
Jim's post has already described microfoam.  I should tell
you that the ease/ability to make microfoam does depend upon
the machine and the tips of the frothing wand.  While I am able
to get good shots with my Saeco Maestro, I never really
succeeded in getting good microfoam, just the "old-school"
frothed milk with more or less stiff microbubbles on top of
hot milk (as opposed to stiff big bubbles on a poorly done
pitcher).  Maybe you'll have better luck than I.  My
used commercial machine does produce microfoam, even
with skim milk, but I never knew the difference until the
change.  The texture is smooth and silky on microfoam.
Most of my espresso is consumed straight or Americanos,
but my wife has really picked up on the microfoam thing since
she prefers lattes.  The espresso really blends nicely into
the microfoam, creating a different texture and drink for
milk-based espresso beverages.  The "old school" stiff
bubbles still makes a good cappa or latte, just different.
For me, it's always been about the coffee, not the milk.
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4) From: Don Parkhurst/Katherine Bartel
I just wanted to mention that I thought that you did a great job explaining
micro foam and latte art! In just a few paragraphs you nailed what I needed
months and months to figure out and to practice.
That would be good posting for a coffee FAQ!

5) From: Angelo
According to the "recipe" for a cappuccino, the ingredients are  1/3 
espresso, 1/3 milk and 1/3 foam. If microfoam is used, one winds up with a 
"fluffy" latte., no?
Saying that the spooning of a thick foam onto an espresso/milk base is a 
"bad" cappa is a bit misguided........I would view that as a "good" cappa 
(all other things being equal) as per the accepted definition.
I don't mind coffee snobbery (I be's one myself), but let's, at least, get 
our terms correct.     On with the thread!
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6) From: JKG
I think it's just an "old school" v. "new school"
thing.  Neither drink is wrong.   Having said that, I 
don't find the microfoam to be fluffy.  It blends and 
folds into the espresso.  The stiff foam tends to sit
on top of the drink.  They both taste fine to me. 
Personally, I prefer the explosion of flavors from 
a double shot, straight up.
My two cents of milk,
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7) From: Jim Schulman
Hi Angelo,
On 25 Sep 2002 at 13:51, you wrote:
Latte's are a new thing, latte art even newer. I simply choose not to accept the Starbuck's (re)definition 
that turns a cappa into an espresso drowned in 16 ounces of froth and milk, whereas a latte is to be drowned 
in 16 ounces of milk only.
With micro-froth, the distinction between milk and froth becomes tenuous. So here, humbly submitted, are some 
definitions suitable for EGA* members:
Macchiato: espresso with a spooned dollop of froth in an espresso cup
Cortado: 1 ounce ristretto + 1 ounce poured froth in an espresso cup (yum). Try latte art if you dare.
Capuccino: espresso with 4 ounces poured froth in a 6 ounce cappa cup; latte art gets you extra points. Lose 
EGA* points if drunk after lunch.
Latte: espresso with 10 ounces poured froth in an Ancora latte cup (shaped like a cappa cup); latte art gets 
you extra points; instant lifetime blacklisting by the EGA* if drunk after 10 am.
*EGA -- Espresso Gourmets (calling yourself a snob loses 3 EGA points) of America
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