Cappuccino milk

Posted at 2007-07-30 13.55

Over the past few months I have been asymptotically approaching being able to make a good cappuccino or latte. (I'm way better than the glassy-eyed morons who are usually behind an espresso machine but nowhere near "good barista".) However, over the last few weeks I have noticed that sometimes I was not able to steam the milk properly. I get very little foam then when I bang out the biggest of the bubbles, it’s virtually flat.

I had thought that I was just having a bad run, but then a colleague mentioned it too. It turns out that only some of the bottles have this characteristic, and we haven't determined, from analysis of the codes on the bottle tops, what determines this. Each was full-fat milk from the same dairy.

If anyone who reads this knows the answer, please mention it in a comment.

10 Comments for 'Cappuccino milk'

    2007-07-30 | 14.55 +0100

    don't use full fat milk. the foam on cappucino is a protein foam and the fat in the milk makes it more likely to collapse.

    2007-07-30 | 15.32 +0100

    Jonas is right. The fatter the milk, the easier the foam collapses. Personally, I had the best results with homogenized milk with 1,5 % of fat, heated to about 50 °C, and a special "milk foam mixer".

    2007-07-30 | 17.07 +0100

    I have had good results with the same type of milk that ak mentioned and by spinning the milkjug slowly when heating the milk. I rarely need to "bang out the big bubbles" since there are none :).

    2007-07-30 | 17.14 +0100

    I also ACK Jonas' answer - I use low-fat milk. I don't remember where (probably in I read there is a curve for foaminess regarding how fatty the milk is - Regular milk is at the lowest level. Low-fat milk is much, much better - But (of course, taste matters a lot) high-fat almost-cream milk goes up again, and makes for a much wealthier coffee in the end.
    Anyway, most of my coffees are made for myself, and are espressos. I very seldom prepare capuccinos.

    2007-07-30 | 17.25 +0100

    Sure, you can get a foamier cappuccino with a lower-fat milk. But all this milk was the same fat content — and I get good (velvetty, tasty) results with most full-fat milk. With semi-skimmed milk the coffee tastes insipid. So, what gives with this other milk?

    2007-07-30 | 19.34 +0100

    In Sweden, the land of milk, we have a special kind of milk called barista milk, sold in most stores, that is aimed specifically for making a good latte or cappucino. It has extra protein. 3.8% protein and 2.6% fat.

    2007-07-31 | 11.25 +0100

    Have a look at and see how the pro’s are doing it - at the 7th World Barista Championship in Tokyo :)

    Rachael W
    2007-09-03 | 14.54 +0100

    I was under the impression that Nero et al use whole milk by standard - because you can ask for a "skinny" [coffee of your choice], and they seem to get decent bubbles, so I am not sure that fat content is the answer.

    Some brief thoughts: how cold is your milk? Because my coffee machine instructions insist that the milk has to be very cold or bubbleage will be rubbish. Experiments so far suggest this is true. Also, a metal milk jug seems to have better bubbly effects than simply chucking it all in a mug and having at it.

    But then I suppose that the issue is likely to be the milk, in which case I draw a blank. Meh. The other half makes my coffee, anyway; I can never froth it properly either. My technique is clearly lacking.

    (jolly good to see you last week, old bean!)

    2007-09-06 | 06.03 +0100

    Rachael: I hear that milk temperature can make a large difference but I'd be willing to bet that each of these bottles was within a couple of degrees of the others. Maybe, like the Bermuda Triangle, this will have to go down in the books as one of life’s great mysteries.

    And yes, it was lovely to see you too.

    2009-08-05 | 00.05 +0100

    For completeness, I should mention that I found more about this conundrum. A couple of times a year, the feed a farm gives its cattle changes from grass to silage and back again. During these periods, the fat and protein quantity can vary wildly. The problem is exacerbated with organic milk since these tend to use fewer herds and thus be unable to blend away the problem.

    That’s what I heard on the internet and The Internet Never Lies.

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