This is a guest post from my beloved, Brian, who has gifted me with chocolate-topped cappuccinos every morning for more than 18 years. So, yeah, he has a bit of experience with foam, a-hem.
Nearly every morning since our daughter was born, I’ve been making cappuccinos on a little home espresso machine. Well, to be accurate, what I make is actually a macchiato. It’s an espresso drink where you pour the coffee through the foam (instead of pouring the foam onto the coffee). I’ve used a variety of cheap little home cappuccino machines made by Braun, Krups, and Mr. Coffee. They all work on a similar system. The machine heats up the water to force it through the coffee grounds and you use that same steam to foam your milk. There’s no electric pump. It all happens at once.
The resulting drink tastes just as good as a $3.75 double-shot cappuccino you’d buy at a coffee bar.
Since you can always find these machines for about $15 or less in the thrift stores, I figured there’d be a few people buying them without instructions (like us). So I made a video showing how I make our macchiatos. It’s had a surprising number of views (are there really more than 200 people who want to know how to do this?). And I’ve found that one of the questions people often ask after making their own cappuccino is, “How come I don’t get thick foam?”
The answer is usually “You don’t have enough steam pressure.” Low pressure causes the nozzle to blow bubbles in the milk but not make nice foam. However, there can also be other problems as well, like you don’t have that little snorkel attachment on your nozzle or your milk isn’t deep enough. None of them, however, are too difficult to figure out.
There are basically four major problem areas to check to get better foam on a home cappuccino machine:
- Your Equipment – Are any of the little holes clogged? Do you have the snorkel attachment?
- Your Coffee – Is it ground fine enough? Do you have it packed firmly enough? (BTW, if you need a new grinder, I highly recommend this KitchenAid Blade Coffee Grinder , which is an affiliate link)
- Your Milk – Is it deep enough?
- Your Timing – Are you waiting long enough in the process to foam your milk? Wait until at least half the coffee is in the carafe before you start frothing. The best pressure is near the end of the process.
It’s a lot easier to show than tell where to look for the problem, so we made a video called How To Make Better Foam on a Home Cappuccino Machine. Consider this “Foam School 101″ – watch it and you will become an expert in achieving rich, thick foam on your little home espresso machine.
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