Question Re: Frothing Milk

Q: Is there anyone here who knows anything about frothing milk for cappuccino? I purchased a Solis cappuccino maker, and the Espresso it produces is excellent. However, I can't obtain what I think is a properly frothed milk. At Starbucks and other coffee shops, the milk is so solidly frothed that it seems positively rigid in the cup, but with the Solis I have been able to obtain only a very soft froth that mostly disappears when I pour the milk into the Espresso. The milk is foamy but not really frothed. Any tips? Ideas? Info? Is the rigid froth at Starbucks a result of additives? Of a higher or lower fat content milk? Of higher pressure steam?

A: I'll not stand for any slandering of my beloved Solis, so I'll straighten you out. In my experience with my 70, I can make big pitchers of froth in any consistency I want, with any type of milk I want. So, that said, the rules for a Solis are about the same as any other machine: Cold milk Cold (from the freezer, preferably) stainless steel pitcher Get the wand into the milk (after blowing out the excess water into your cup to warm it) and keep it near the surface. There should be a little vortex dipping into the milk next to the tip of the wand. Keep the pitcher tipped at 46.5 degrees ;) as you froth. Once you've got the volume and consistency you want, plunge the wand and finish heating the milk to the appropriate temp. For 'stiffer' froth, keep the tip of the wand very close to the surface for a longer time and you'll need less time to finish steaming the milk. For a more traditional cap with a less stiff froth, shorten the frothing time and lengthen the steaming time. As Barry has said before, get a gallon of milk and practice. For less than $2 in milk and an hour of your time, you'll learn what you want to know. I think you may be onto something here. Now that I've been using the machine for a while, I've found that if I expel all the "wet" steam and allow the steaming mechanism to heat even beyond the time the light indicates the steamer is ready, the steam becomes "dryer" and a finer vapor develops. It does not dilute the milk, and the milk froths with greater volume and more quickly, producing a much more satisfactory result. Admittedly, I don't know what the gold standard is in frothing milk. I only assume that Starbucks and other such specialty shops do know, and their milk usually develops a relatively high-volume, stiff froth, but I have become happier now with with I can get from the Solis machine. Guess it just took a while for me to learn some of the nuances.