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How to Steam Milk With Espresso Machine: Steam It Like a Pro

When I first started learning more about coffee and coffee machines, there were a lot of things that I knew nothing about. For example, the steaming wand on the machine was something that surprised me and confused me at the same time because I did not know what it was. Only after I learned how to steam milk with an espresso machine did I truly realize what that wand could do.

The steaming wand is a wand that is usually located on the side of the portafilter. It is quite powerful, and it can be used to steam or froth milk. There is a slight difference between these two methods, but I will discuss them in more detail later on.

Today, however, I will focus mainly on how to steam milk with espresso machine to make your coffee even better. If you are into coffee that is made with milk, this guide is a must-read for you. Let’s get into it and see what the milk steamer is all about!

How to Steam Milk With Espresso Machine: Steaming Vs Frothing

frothing milk in a coffee machine

A lot of people are confused about these two concepts and even think that there should be separate devices used to achieve frothed milk or steamed milk. If this is something that confuses you as well, I want to take some time to explain to you what the difference is between steaming and frothing.

Both steaming and frothing are done with the same steamer on the espresso machine. Even though you can sometimes use a separate frother or steamer for the purpose, I find the steamers on espresso machines to be a lot more convenient.

The main difference between steaming and frothing is the result you are trying to get. With steaming, you want to warm the milk up without turning it completely into foam. On the other hand, frothing is something you do when you want the milk to be transformed into foam.

As I go into the step-by-step guide, I will tell you how to use the steamer to steam the milk without crossing the line and going into frothing territory. I hope that the steps will help you steam your milk to perfection and make your coffee taste better than you ever thought it could!

How to Steam Milk With Espresso Machine: Step-by-Step Guide

Now you know the difference between steaming and frothing milk, let’s focus on the steaming process for you to learn how you can steam your milk. For this guide, I will also explain how you can use the steamer that comes with your espresso machine. Make sure you have one of those before getting started with the steaming process!

Step 1. Gather everything you need

pitcher for milk needed for the espresso machine

For the steaming process, you do not need anything aside from some milk, a milk pitcher, and the espresso machine that comes with a steamer.

When it comes to the milk you use, you can try out any kind of milk that you like. As for the milk pitcher, I recommend that you get one made from stainless steel. You should keep both the milk and the pitcher cold until the moment you need to use them!

Aside from this, I recommend that you turn on the espresso machine and let it heat up before starting with the steaming process. Once you see that the machine is heated enough, you can move on to the next step!

Step 2. Prepare for steaming

pouring the milk into the pitcher

Take the milk and pour it into the milk pitcher, filling it 1/3 of the way. If you put more milk in it, you might have a slight problem with controlling the vortex of the milk. I recommend that you get started with less milk and work your way up.

Another thing you should do is turn the steamer on for just a couple of seconds or long enough to purge whatever is trapped in it. There may be some water or leftover milk in it that you do not want to get into your new milk.

Point the steamer in the direction of the drip tray when you turn it on. If that is not possible, consider placing a cup underneath it. Once you are done with this, you can go right into the steaming process.

Step 3. Start the steaming process

start steaming the milk

Get the milk pitcher and place the steamer in it. You should make sure that the tip of the steamer is all the way in before you turn the steamer on. The position of the steamer is what makes the difference between steamed and frothed milk.

For frothing, you will keep the steamer just below the surface of the milk and that will allow you to turn the milk into foam. For steaming, you will put the tip of the steamer fully into the milk so that you will heat the milk without turning it into foam.

Once you have the steamer in the right position, turn the steam on and start slowly swirling the milk. You will see something like a vortex forming in the pitcher. Keep it that way until the milk reaches your desired temperature.

I would recommend that you stop the steam when the temperature reaches about 150 degrees Fahrenheit. If you do not have a thermometer on your machine, you should be able to tell with your touch when the milk is hot enough. Just be careful not to burn yourself!

Step 4. Wrap up the steaming process

milk from the pitcher after steaming process

After the milk reaches the desired temperature, you should turn the steamer off and take it out of the milk. The milk you have prepared will be perfect for making latte coffee. All you need to do is add the milk to your previously prepared coffee and you will be good to go!

Step 5. Quick cleaning

clean the steaming wand and pitcher

As a final note, I recommend that you clean the steaming wand quickly so that you make sure no milk is left in it. You should go over it with a damp cloth to clean the surface, and you can also turn it on before you get rid of anything that is stuck in the wand.

After doing that, you will be able to sit down and enjoy your coffee without worrying about your steamer or the espresso machine.

FAQs on How to Steam Milk With Espresso Machine

Before I wrap this guide up, I want to share with you a couple of other pieces of information regarding the steaming process. I think this extra information will come in handy when you try to steam milk with an espresso machine for the first time.

How long do you steam milk for espresso?

A lot of people like to combine their espresso with steamed milk. If you like to do that as well, you will only need a couple of minutes for the entire process. The espresso takes less than a minute to prepare, while the steamed milk takes only about five to ten seconds.

If you turn your steamer to maximum, you should be able to heat the milk within ten seconds. The only recommendation that I have is to steam the milk only, meaning not to put the coffee in the pitcher as well. That will ruin the taste of both the coffee and the milk, so you should try to avoid doing that!

What kind of milk is best for steaming?

The type of milk you use for steaming will be based mainly on your preference, meaning the type of milk you usually like to drink. I would recommend that you try steaming non-fat milk, whole milk, and 2% milk. If you are not into that idea, you can always go with organic milk, lactose-free milk, or some dairy-free milk.

If you choose to go with the dairy-free kinds of milk, I think you should look into coconut, almond, and rice milk. They are best when steamed and combined with some coffee!

That’s How You Steam Milk With Espresso Machine!

If you read everything closely, you should be able to steam your milk and enrich the flavor of your coffee with it. I hope that you found my step-by-step guide helpful and informative. Let me know in the comments below if you know any steaming tricks that you would like to share with me. I cannot wait to read all about it!

Avatar for Krista Haws

Known among her friends as 'the caffeine fiend', Krista loves all things coffee. From an extremely short, strong espresso to a 3 day cold brew, Krista loves them all.

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