The NanoFoamer creates microfoamed milk that helps anyone from beginners to barista champions with pouring latte art.
When Dominic Symons, Founder of Subminimal and creator of the NanoFoamer, was designing new technology for the coffee market, he noticed that most equipment was focused on espresso.
“As a designer, you look for gaps in the market where something is missing,” says Dominic. “A lot of coffee quality has to do with the milk, and I found there were no tools that could reproduce [barista-style milk] at home.”
Dominic realised the only options he had for foaming milk was between inefficient whisk frothers or huge espresso machines with no in-between.
And so, the idea for the NanoFoamer was born. Activated by holding a button, the NanoFoamer creates finely textured milk through a motorised impeller that pushes air through a mesh screen into the milk at high speed. The speed breaks down the air bubbles into a microscopic mist, which results in a velvety microfoamed milk.
“Because so much equipment is about the coffee, it was nice to launch something that focused on the milk, which is honestly equally as important in a milk-based drink like a cappuccino or flat white,” says Dominic.
The Nanofoamer can be ordered as a set, with a contactless thermometer and milk jug that is specifically designed to heat milk on a stove. Users warm their milk to roughly 55°C, with the help of the contactless thermometer, before plunging the NanoFoamer into the milk and frothing it for roughly 20 seconds.
This way of foaming milk contrasts with the traditional steam wand method where the milk is warmed and air is incorporated at the same time.
There are more than 20 global distributors of the NanoFoamer, including Coffee Tools Distributing in Australia.
“What you can achieve with [the NanoFoamer] is the same quality you can achieve with the steam wand,” says Coffee Tools Distributing Founder Curtis Arnold. “It’s not ‘almost as good’ or ‘sort of as good as’, it’s genuinely as good quality that you can use anywhere, be it at home or in a caravan.”
According to Subminimal’s Dominic, another benefit of the NanoFoamer is that the milk is not being heated at the same time, giving the user more time to create the perfect foam.
“If you’re frothing it at the same time as heating it, you’ve only got a certain amount of time before you burn the milk,” Dominic says.
Dominic adds that steam-frothed milk is often susceptible to late rising air bubbles that can ruin latte art.
“We noticed while trialling the NanoFoamer that, when we left the coffee on the bench, even after 30 minutes the foam was still perfectly intact,” says Dominic.
He attributes this to the two swappable mesh screens which break down the air being pushed into the milk.
These two screens, Fine or SuperFine, have different size mesh holes which alter the amount of air being incorporated, and result in the foam consistency. For hot chocolate or powders, the NanoFoamer can be used without the screens.
“I designed it like this to allow for user customisability and to cater for cultural differences and preferences,” says Dominic.
He recommends frothing the milk between 20 to 40 seconds, dependent on whether the milk is dairy or plant based. The plant-based market, he adds, has shown an over-whelming amount of interest in the NanoFoamer due to the lack of frothers that can texture plant-based milks. Curtis further adds that steam wands have the ability to cause chemical changes to plant-based milks, due to the water being incorporated. This is also dependent on whether the plant-based milk has been specifically designed for barista frothing.
“[The NanoFoamer] is really a unique application of existing technology. It’s different from other whisk foamers on the market that work through a vibrating coil,” says Curtis.
Encased in a heavy-duty shaft to prevent bending, the NanoFoamer is waterproof and comes with a wall hanging attachment for easy cleaning and storage. To further add to its flexibility, it comes with a protective cover for storage and travel. It is simply powered by two AA+ batteries.
Another aspect of the set is the infrared food thermometer that allows baristas to check the temperature of the milk without the clean up afterwards.
“You want it to be at the right temperature every time and putting a probe into the milk is just one extra thing you have to wipe down in the morning,” says Dominic.
Subminimal’s milk jug comes with an insulated handle that is made out of heat resistant polymer plastic. The jug’s body is made out of 304 stainless steel, allowing for greater durability and resistance to corrosion. Buyers also have a choice between brushed stainless steel or Teflon coated black coloured jugs.
“I realised all the milk jugs on the market had steel handles that were welded at the bottom so when you heated it on a stove, it became very hot as heat flowed up the handle,” says Dominic.
“There was nothing on the market which had a heat resistant handle and was designed for latte art, because basically all milk jugs are designed for steamers.”
As such, Dominic designed the jug base without the common bump at the bottom. It also has a smooth transition from the body to the tip with a wide V spout, which Dominic says is nice for those initial big latte art ripples and narrows to a fine tip for precise details.
Starting as a latte art novice himself, Dominic found that the jug’s features helped with an even milk flow. He predicts this will suit his target demographic of people learning to make barista style coffee. At the other end of the spectrum, the jug has also received endorsement from 2018 Australian Latte Art Champion Shinsaku Fukayama.
“I met him when I attended his latte art class in Jakarta,” says Dominic. “We got along well and ended up staying in touch. Before I launched [the NanoFoamer] I got in contact with him again, and he was really interested.”
From there, Subminimal released a special one-off “Black Katana” jug featuring Shinsaku’s logo engraved on the side, coinciding with the launch of the NanoFoamer in early 2021.
Coffee Tools Distributing is confident in the Nanofoamer’s Australian market uptake. Curtis says in the years he’s distributed products in the coffee market, he’s been asked time and time again for a milk solution by customers, and now, he finally has one.
“[The NanoFoamer] is for anyone. If you drink any type of milk with your coffee then this is a really great option,” says Curtis.
For more information, please visit www.coffeetools.supply
This article appears in the August 2021 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.