BeanScene learns from café owners how the Ubermilk milk foaming system has revolutionised their businesses and workflow.
When Zach Hiotis opened Regiment café in the Sydney CBD four years ago, he knew it would be a risk installing not only the first, but the first two Ubermilk milk foaming systems in Australia. Now, he wouldn’t open a café without one.
“Regiment is known for its lavish, high-end fit out, and one of those elements is this expensive stone marble we used for the benchtop. I remember standing there with one of our baristas saying: ‘I want to sink the Ubermilks in a little bit, so they’re the same height as our machines’,” Zach says.
“They said, ‘hang on, are we going to cut a hole in this $30,000 benchtop to fit in these machines that are basically prototypes?’ I said ‘yes, I believe in the tech. These things are going to work’.”
Work they did, and that marble benchtop now decorates the top of the two units. Zach set out to create the “ultimate workflow” at Regiment, with those Ubermilks the final point in a specialty coffee ‘assembly line’, also featuring four Mythos 2 grinders, a PuqPress tamper, and two straight-in-portafilter La Marzocco KB90s.
“The Mythos 2 grinders weigh your shots straight into your portafilter, which goes straight into a PuqPress, then right into the KB90. With the Ubermilk taking care of milk texturing, it doesn’t get easier than that,” Zach says.
“The baristas were intimidated at first because they felt like it was there to take their jobs, but I made sure they knew pretty fast that it wasn’t a ‘barista killer’. Any skilled barista should be able to see that it’s there to make their job easier, not to replace them.”
Rather than using steam to heat and texture milk, Ubermilk syphons the desired volume of milk from the refrigerator into an aerator, where a needle valve controls how much air is incorporated into the milk. The milk then runs through a high-power heater and filter, resulting in micro foamed milk pouring out of the nozzle. Zach says not using water steam to heat the milk means the dairy can maintain its sweetness.
“There are some variables to make the milk frothier or flatter, but we find Ubermilk’s amazing at setting itself, so we can still split our milk and pour a cappuccino or a flat white out of it without changing a thing,” Zach says.
“And as opposed to hand steaming, where you’re usually left with wastage in the jug, you’re only dispensing the milk you need. I don’t look at Ubermilk as a cost saving measure, but it definitely is in terms of milk wastage over time.”
While the Ubermilks take care of full cream dairy needs at Zach’s venues, baristas are still required to manually texture skim milks and dairy alternatives so they don’t lose that classic café sound. But with one less variable to focus on, Zach says baristas are able to dedicate more attention to the actual coffee extraction.
“I’ve been in the industry 21 years and talking to café owners back then, our biggest dilemma was getting a barista that could produce good milk. Now we focus more on the coffee itself,” Zach says.
“Our shots are coming out with extra love and care because the barista isn’t juggling a bunch of other things.”
Zach opened a second Sydney CBD store in 2020, Sevens Specialty Coffee, with a strong focus on specialty coffee and rare coffee beans in the Sydney CBD. He added a third, Yoho Loco, in Eveleigh in March 2021, which he says shares Regiment’s emphasis on the ultimate workflow. Both sites proudly feature Ubermilks beside their espresso machines.
“Ubermilk takes away the stress of whether your staff is burning or under steaming the milk, and at the same time, you’re getting better baristas. When I’m hiring baristas and they see we have Ubermilks, it excites them because they know that burden of sitting there watching milk steam is taken off their back,” Zach says.
“I would not open a café without one. For me, it’s a necessary piece of equipment if a café is planning to do serious volumes of coffee.”
Rouby Sidarous operates three The Street Canteen cafés in busy NSW hospitals as well as Atomic Press at the University of New South Wales, and he could not agree more.
“We open a new café about every six months and Ubermilk has become a standard part of our café installations,” Rouby says.
“When we got our first Ubermilk two years ago, I saw it as ‘nice to have’. But now, the question isn’t if we’ll use Ubermilk, it’s ‘do we get one or do we get two?’”
He adds there have been many benefits to installing Ubermilk, though speed of service has to be number one.
“Some of our busier sites do more than 100 kilograms of coffee per week, so to have that speed in our peak times is a huge advantage for our customers,” he says.
“Second is consistency – managing customer expectations. It takes out the anomalies, like the temperature of the milk, that individual baristas can introduce to the process.”
Another key advantage is the efficiency Ubermilk provides in the backend as well as on the bar. Rouby says Ubermilk makes the difference between having one or two staff members rostered on for quieter shifts.
“It’s like an extra pair of hands. Across rostering and wastage, Ubermilk pays itself off without a doubt within the first year. At our biggest site, it paid itself off within six months,” he says.
“The other thing, which is hard to quantify, is the extra sales. We work in high-traffic sites, where people can walk in, see the queue, and walk away. Ubermilk helps us get through orders quicker, which means losing less business because of a long queue.”
Ubermilk is distributed in Australia through Barista Group. Rouby says he has received non-stop support over the years and no issues with the units.
“In our experience over the past two years, as long as you follow the rules in the instruction manual, the Ubermilk just doesn’t break. You can tell it’s built to last. The digital interface is user friendly, and the user experience is quite intuitive. It doesn’t take long to train new staff in how to use it,” he says.
“The guys at Barista Group know their stuff, they’re professionals, and they’re passionate about the machine. I don’t think it would be out of turn to say they treat the initial purchase as step one of the relationship, not the final stop.”
Rouby was hesitant at first to use the Ubermilk and was worried about what customers would think when they saw their milk coming right out of a machine. However, as Ubermilk began to grace the benchtops of more cafés, roasters, and coffee chains across Australia, he says baristas and customers quickly realised what the machine had to offer.
“Even going from manual to automatic grinders was frowned upon back in the days. I think Ubermilk is the next step,” Rouby says.
“Long gone are the days where the barista has to sweat it out behind the machine for a great cup of coffee. The product stand for itself, no matter how it was made and Ubermilk is a feather in the cap of that journey.”
For more information, visit www.baristagroup.com.au
This article appears in the April 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.