How to texture milk and perform the perfect pour

texture milk perfect pour

Mocopan Coffee’s Babin Gurung on how to effectively train a new barista to texture milk and build confidence in their ability to perform a perfect pour.

As confident as you are in your barista role, teaching someone new the basics of coffee making can be a challenge. Something like milk texturing may come second nature to you, but for a beginner, it might sound like rocket science. That’s why knowing something and teaching it are two very different skill sets. An experienced barista needs to have both.

Babin Gurung
Babin Gurung is the New South Wales Barista Trainer of Suntory Coffee Australia.

As with any training, it is important to assess the knowledge and skill level of the trainee and build on it. Besides respecting everyone’s ability and methods of learning, you need to be patient and create a comfortable environment. Breaking down concepts into small chunks or steps is a good way to introduce new ideas. Always make sure the trainee is confident in the first step before moving on to the second one.

Milk texturing is one of the hardest and longest skills to master. To help you structure the training and break down concepts around milk texturing, I have created two methods to help achieve perfect milk. Using this guide will help relay all the key concepts effectively and give new baristas confidence quicker. 

Method 1: texturing
Texturing milk includes aerating the milk to its desired froth level before bringing it to the right temperature (60 to 65°C). As a simple rule, the more air you add to the milk, the more froth you build. You need to do this while the milk is cold in order to stretch the proteins, which helps build silky smooth foam. Here are few steps to get consistent result every time.

STEP 1: PORTION  Start with the right amount of milk in your jug to avoid wastage or reuse.
STEP 2: PURGE Purge your steam wand to clear any residue. This prevents any foreign matter going into the milk and avoids milk from splashing.
STEP 3: POSITION Position the jug at an angle to help the milk spin. Make sure the tip of the steam wand is about half a centimetre below the surface of the milk. This will ensure you start adding air as soon as you turn on the steam.
STEP 4: AERATE Once the steamer is on, allow the milk to aerate. You should hear a hissing sound. This is a sign that air is building into the milk to create froth. The longer you leave the steam wand in the milk, the more froth you will get.
STEP 5: TEMPERATURE If you don’t hear the sound, you need to slide the jug lower so that the tip of the steam wand comes closer to the surface creating the sound.
To get consistent amount of froth for different coffee types, here’s a good time measure:
Cappuccino: three seconds of hissing sound
Latte: two seconds of hissing sound
Flat white: one second of hissing sound.
If you’re making multiple coffees, simply add the number of seconds per drink.
What you don’t want to hear, however, is that awful screeching sound of the milk under attack. Hissing is good, screeching is not.
Once you’ve achieved the right level of froth, raise the jug slightly so the steam wand sinks deeper below the surface, which will stop the hissing sound.
STEP 6: CLEAN Always wipe the steam wand after texturing and purge to clear any leftover milk.
TAP ‘N’ SWIRL Tap and swirl the jug to remove any large air bubbles to achieve a silky-smooth consistency.

texture milk perfect pourMethod 2: pouring
Your pouring technique is really important to get the right amount of froth into a cup while retaining the crema. Before you start pouring, I use what I call the “reading the jug” technique to assess the amount of froth in the jug. When you swirl your jug, frothy milk moves slowly while a flat milk will spin faster. Learning to read the jug will help you switch between various pouring techniques. There are three mains ways of pouring milk into a cup.

LOW POUR  A low pour means pouring milk while keeping the spout of the jug close to the cup. The angle allows more froth to come out. So, for drinks like a cappuccino, it’s preferable to use a low pour. However, if you start your pour low, the froth can break the crema, giving you milky coffee. Therefore, you need to start at a medium height followed by low pour.
MEDIUM POUR A medium pour is when you keep the spout of the milk jug around 10 centimetres above the rim of the cup.
This ensures the crema is not disturbed and gives you slightly less amount of froth. This technique works best for lattes as the angle creates even mix of milk and froth. 
HIGH POUR The high pour method is great for pouring flat whites as it requires the least amount of froth. For this, you need to keep the spout around 15 centimetres above the rim of the cup, creating a sharp angle which pushes froth to the back of the jug and allows more milk into the cup.

Split pouring
Split pour technique can be used to get control over froth levels when making two or more coffees at once. 

HALF ‘N’ FULL  You can use the half ‘n’ full technique to pour two coffees quickly from a single jug. You will still need the two methods to achieve the desired consistency and volume of froth in your milk. Start by pouring the frothy drink first but only up to halfway mark in the cup. Then proceed to pour the second cup filling it all the way to the top. With the leftover milk in your jug, finish the first cup. This helps you get the right amount of froth into two cups every time. 
HALF ‘N’ HALF This technique gives you more control over your milk. Once the milk is textured, first pour about 75 per cent of the milk into a second pre-heated jug then pour back about 25 per cent of the milk into the first jug. This will ensure you end up with two halves that are equal in quantity and froth level. Now using the pouring methods, you can achieve the desired amount to froth in your coffees.  

This article appears in the December 2019 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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