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 totally agree that individual sensitivities should always prevail! And I'm actually surprised to read that I wrote 160-180, as I always turn it off by 160 (unless I get distracted). As I tend to drink on the run - as opposed to sitting quietly and enjoying - the extra heat helps it last longer, I use a thermometer every time I froth milk. I use skim and my husband uses 2%, so we both have experience frothing both. I generally froth about 6-7 ounces for my double cappuccino, he usually does 4-5 ounces (sometimes more) for his double whatevers. Although we've both noticed that the milk retains its heat for quite a while if we get a good head of foam, I've never seen the temperature actually rise (and since the thermometer stays on the pitcher until I've pulled my shots and then added the milk - and because I compulsively check everything - I've not seen the temp. rise. I'm not saying it's impossible, just that I've not seen it. We always aim for steaming to 160 F because we've found that the closer to 180 F we get the more likely we are to get serious bubbling and borderline scalding. Anything less than 160 F seems to cool more quickly. Since we're both on the distractible side, the milk sometimes has to sit for longer than I intend before adding the Espresso, so I like to make sure it's still plenty hot. Milk is an interesting thing to heat. I'm sure there's some weird-o physics involved but you can try this experiment at home if you have an accurate thermometer. Steam heat your milk up to about 150 F and stop. Set the pitcher aside for a few minutes. come back and read the thermometer again. It should have risen 5 to 20 degrees. How come? Dunno. Probably someting to do with energy transfer and storage in the protein or fat molecules ... I've never tried this on more than about 4 ozs of milk. I wonder if a larger volume would rise in temp faster or further?