How to make the perfect espresso
Victoria's reigning barista champion Caleb Podhaczky demonstrates how to make the perfect espresso at home.
A recent video on Slate.com shows how to make frothed milk at home with nothing more than a mason jar and a microwave (after the microwaving they suggest you put the frothy milk in a cup and add filter coffee). But such a preppy crappuccino wouldn't cut it in a Melbourne household. And who has mason jars anyway?
Texturing milk is simple if you're working with a commercial machine that pumps out steam at 1.5 bars, and even easier for the Victorian latte art champion, Sensory Lab's Ben Morrow.
With the machine prepped, Morrow can have the milk ready in 10 or 15 seconds: silky, glossy, slick are the words he uses to describe well-textured milk.
"When you've finished steaming it and you move it around in the jug it should still feel malleable," he says. "When it's at its peak, it's hard to tell the foam from the liquid. It's like whipping meringue."
But with lower pressure domestic machines, the task can be a little harder.
"You can make good texture with any kind of nozzle," Morrow says. "But if you have low pressure it's hard. The pressure is too low if it takes more than about a minute to heat the milk."
At home, go slow and steady, he says. Start with fresh, full-cream milk, and while cold milk is preferable, using room temperature milk will help get it hot quicker.
Just submerge the tip of the steam nozzle in the milk, a little off centre in the jug, with the jug tilted to 45 degrees. Then open the steam valve, and when a vortex forms around the nozzle, lift it slightly.
Focus on maintaining the vortex, says Morrow. "Slowly bring in small amounts of air," he says. "You want that 'crisping' sound in little bursts – otherwise you get bubbles that are too large."
The vortex keeps the milk spinning in the jug, which breaks large bubbles down into microfoam.
Work until the jug feels just too hot to touch. Aim for a five per cent increase in volume, says Morrow, which will keep the foam integrated in the milk, not separate.