As the previous blog describes, frothing the milk using the machine’s steamer requires training and a lot of experience.
Frothing the milk again, adding new milk to already frothed milk, or overheating the frothed milk affects the coffee’s quality. Poor steam frothing may result from excess water in the milk, an excessively high or low milk fat content, the rate at which the barista froths the milk, or the quality of the milk that is used in the coffee bar – please see the following paragraphs.
Here are a few words concerning the milk we buy:
The cows live at different locations and under different weather conditions; they primarily eat grass or a concentrated diet of grain, soy, corn, and other supplements. Consequently, they produce various types of milk.
The milk pasteurization process and the associated equipment are not unique. They vary from company to company, from one location to the next, and for additional reasons that companies do not typically disclose to the public due to manufacturing secrets.
The barista holds the pitcher with his/her hands while looking at the milk and uses them to sense the milk’s temperature (some use thermometers). This activity requires the barista’s concentration and patience. It helps if the barista knows what type of milk he/she is dealing with. But how is he/she supposed to know where the milk comes from or what pasteurization process it underwent and to act accordingly?
Well, it is impossible. A skilled barista estimates the anticipated frothing results based on the experience he or she has accrued by using one type of milk (with which he/she is familiar) most of the time.
We conducted the following experiment using an MFMM: We processed bottled milk that we had refrigerated. It tasted sweet and its micro-foam structure was uniformly dense. We then left the bottle with the remaining milk on the table for three hours at the local summer room temperature (approx. 25° centigrade). Subsequently, we processed that milk with the MFMM: It did not taste sweet and its micro-foam structure was different from that of the milk in the previous round. We concluded that the milk had lost its quality since it had remained outside the fridge for a long time.
According to our experiment, different types of milk (manufactured by different companies and with different percentages of fat) require different processes (the MFMM is computerized) to get the expected results: The machine senses the activity using its sensors, and this results in its obtaining the desired sweet taste and micro-foam structure.
As you know, cats like milk. My kids change our cat’s milk frequently. This is because it often approaches its milk container, sniffs at it, and turns away until they give it fresh milk in a clean container. The cat is probably pampered, but maybe it prefers fresh milk…
A barista probably doesn’t have the sensory capacity of a cat; so how can he/she estimate the milk’s quality? He/she should be a professional, highly experienced, and capable of performing the following tasks at high speed: grinding coffee grains, filling the portafilter, frothing the milk, and serving the latte/cappuccino to the customer or waiter. Sometimes the barista also has to receive the payment; and there’s also sanitation to think about. Milk is sticky; so letting the milk dry on the pitcher or another vessel is not recommended.
The barista has to perform the above activities while paying attention to the machine’s steamer and pitcher contents, sensing the temperature, keeping track of the coffee machine’s activity, and, from time to time, talking to a customer or to someone on his/her cell phone. And what if some customers are waiting in line? On average, this is how coffee is prepared at a coffee bar. With a little luck, we could get a delicious latte or cappuccino in these circumstances.
I have a few words about soy milk:
Soy milk has a special smell and taste; some people don’t like it. Using the MFMM sweetens the soy milk while creating a dense micro-foam structure. The soy milk’s special taste and smell are extracted during the process; they simply disappear. People who are not interested in drinking cow’s milk and don’t like the smell and taste of soy milk are bound to reconsider their aversion for the latter following the use of the MFMM.
Milk processing appliances at home: Dozens of milk appliances are available for domestic use; given the foregoing discussion of milk’s quality issues and the complicated preparation process, it’s possible to “just guess” why none of them has found a place in the commercial coffee bar…
The cost of cappuccino/latte at a coffee bar and the MFMM:
The cost of coffee grains in my area varies from $5 to $40 per lb. Thus, the first component of a latte depends on the coffee bar owner’s preferences. His/her business probably carries just one type of coffee grain. You may find some astonishing info about coffee grains on this page: http://www.thecoffeeguide.org/coffee-guide/quality-control-issues/coffee-tasting-liquoring/?menuID=2219.
The cost of milk in my area varies from $1.3 (cow’s milk) to $5 (goat’s milk) per liter; some coffee bar owners prefer one type of low-cost cow’s milk and one type of soy milk that could cost twice or more. Cappuccino and latte containing soy milk and those containing cow’s milk are sold at similar prices at these coffee bars. We could easily conclude that our preferred taste is not the most significant parameter governing choice in today’s coffee bar even when we agree to pay more for something more delicious.
It is now easy to understand why some coffee bars offer “improved” coffees by adding chocolate, syrups, etc. The resulting beverages are probably delicious. But what about the coffee?
The MFMM will change that situation radically: The coffee bar owner will be forced to carry various coffee grains and grinders (please see previous blogs) in his/her coffee bar to meet the customers’ preferences. The use of cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or soy milk of different qualities will contribute to the special taste and look of your preferred coffee. And yes, the price will vary accordingly, even significantly. The final result will be a coffee that cannot be prepared in the present-day coffee bar or home.
Hot chocolate: Now, just imagine getting this beverage made of cow’s milk or soy milk and just half a teaspoon of cocoa powder. It is sweet, even without sugar or any other sweetener for children or adults; and you get to decide whether it contains cow’s milk, soy milk, or goat’s milk and the percentage of fat in the milk.
The coffee lover at home now has the option of becoming a coffee expert. Using the MFMM will help him/her choose the appropriate taste and aroma while significantly reducing the added amount of sugar or other sweeteners.
For additional answers to your questions about micro-foam milk and the MFMM, please view our website’s FAQ page.