How Espresso Works

By: Madeline Bullock

Milk Matters

About espresso and milk: Milk can hide many sins of less-than-perfect espresso. Frothing milk correctly is a fine art in itself, with its own set of specifications. Basically, you don't want to heat the milk past about 150°F, almost too hot to touch in a metal container. The result you want is lots of foam at the top. This will take about 30-45 second for 6 ounces of milk (enough for 2 cappuccinos) with a steam wand, and a slight up and down motion of the container.

True espresso fanatics will roast their own beans, and debate about proper tamping pressure, crema criteria, proportions, desirability of mineral over distilled water, and the advantages of pump over steam methods. But you don't have to embrace the extremes in order to enjoy good espresso at home. The key to perfecting the art of espresso is PRACTICE! The more familiar you become with making and drinking espresso, the better.


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