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Community I need you help - Milk curdling after extensive, failed troubleshooting

BaristaMista

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Apr 17, 2018
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Hello there fellow coffee enthusiasts.

I have owned the [FONT=Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif, HelveticaNeue, Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]Breville [/FONT]BES870XL for several years now and have used it continuously, several times a day to create different coffees, worthy of their Italian counterparts. However, I have run into an irritating issue with my milk. As cappuccinos are my beverage of choice, I am not happy about it.

Now before you throw posts at me about my milk being old, please consider the following steps I have taken before deciding that I was at my wit's end.

I have cleaned my Breville many times over the past years. I have gone through the cleaning cycle with the recommended cleaning tablets and vinegar. I never had an issue with my milk. I have used different types of vinegar, most recently white vinegar.

My milk started curdling. Badly. The coffee is absolutely undrinkable. So I did my research.

I threw out my milk as a precaution and have since used different types of milk. Almond milk is my go to, but I have tested cow milk as well. I have tried different brands and tried heating it up in the microwave instead of using the machine's frother[FONT=Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif, HelveticaNeue, Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif][/FONT][FONT=Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif, HelveticaNeue, Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]. It curdles every time.

I assumed there might be an acidity issue in the internals of my machine - presumably from the vinegar, maybe that was off. I ran several cleaning cycles with recommended cleaning tablets, followed by a couple gallons of alkaline and distilled water. It still curdles.

I meticulously cleaned all utensils with distilled water in case my dishwashers rinse aid left residue. I have been using the same dishwasher I've used all year, but I tried it out anyway. The milk still curdles.

I also tried letting the coffee and milk cool down before combining the two. This helps slightly, but unless I wait until the two are cold, I still get some curdling.

Community, I need your expertise. What else can I try? I have to stick to Espressos and mediocre coffee from the outside world for now.

Thank you for your help.

Luis
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PinkRose

Super Moderator
Staff member
Feb 28, 2008
5,226
11
Near Philadelphia, PA
Hello

I threw out my milk as a precaution and have since used different types of milk. Almond milk is my go to, but I have tested cow milk as well. I have tried different brands and tried heating it up in the microwave instead of using the machine's frother[FONT=Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif, HelveticaNeue, Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif][/FONT][FONT=Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif, HelveticaNeue, Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]. It curdles every time.


I also tried letting the coffee and milk cool down before combining the two. This helps slightly, but unless I wait until the two are cold, I still get some curdling.

[/FONT]

Is this correct? Do you get the same curdling if you heat the milk in the microwave as well as with the machine's steaming wand? Is the milk curdled after heating it, or does it curdle as soon as it's poured into the coffee? By any chance, are you adding any type of flavoring to the milk or the coffee? (syrups, etc).

Rose
 

topher

Super Moderator
Staff member
Aug 14, 2003
3,837
36
Boca Raton
Pink Rose. I thought about syrups. Funny story I used to roast for the prez of us Monin. It drove me mad when he had us sample drinks like Irish Cream. I explained that since it had citric acid it wouldn't work. His answer? Steam the milk and syrup together....when it foams no one will see it curdled. Sigh...I am not making that up. SMDH.
 
Last edited:

PinkRose

Super Moderator
Staff member
Feb 28, 2008
5,226
11
Near Philadelphia, PA
Pink Rose. I thought about syrups. Funny story I used to roast for the prez of us Monin. It drove me mad when he had us sample drinks like Irish Cream. I explained that since it had citrus it wouldn't work. His answer? Steam the milk and syrup together....when it foams no one will see it curdled. Sigh...I am not making that up. SMDH.

It makes you wonder what else goes on behind the scenes.

There have been times when I've observed the syrups curdling the milk, and it starts out looking okay, and then the curdles quickly float to the top of the foam and hang on there. It's not a pretty sight. I can picture the president of US Monin asking you to put lids on the cups so no one would notice. Then, you'd really be shaking your head in disbelief.
 
OP
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BaristaMista

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Apr 17, 2018
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Is this correct? Do you get the same curdling if you heat the milk in the microwave as well as with the machine's steaming wand? Is the milk curdled after heating it, or does it curdle as soon as it's poured into the coffee? By any chance, are you adding any type of flavoring to the milk or the coffee? (syrups, etc).

Rose

Thanks for your responses, Rose and Topher! The milk tastes perfectly fine once I take it out of the microwave, it does not curdle until I combine the two... I am not adding any flavors or syrups to either of them. I have tried heating the milk in the microwave in a freshly cleaned glass, even after letting it cool down a bit, I still get some curdling.

Luis
 

PinkRose

Super Moderator
Staff member
Feb 28, 2008
5,226
11
Near Philadelphia, PA
Thanks for your responses, Rose and Topher! The milk tastes perfectly fine once I take it out of the microwave, it does not curdle until I combine the two... I am not adding any flavors or syrups to either of them. I have tried heating the milk in the microwave in a freshly cleaned glass, even after letting it cool down a bit, I still get some curdling.

Luis

Luis,

What kind of coffee are you using?

Are you grinding the beans yourself?

Could there be a problem with your machine? Is your Breville BES870XL making the espresso hotter than usual? (scalding hot?)

I agree that it is very strange that the milk is okay, until you pour it into the coffee. It's a bit of a mystery!
 
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BaristaMista

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Apr 17, 2018
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Luis,

What kind of coffee are you using?

Are you grinding the beans yourself?

Could there be a problem with your machine? Is your Breville BES870XL making the espresso hotter than usual? (scalding hot?)

I agree that it is very strange that the milk is okay, until you pour it into the coffee. It's a bit of a mystery!

I am using different organic coffee beans that I buy from my local Sprouts. I am grinding it with the Breville machine. The coffee is quite hot(drinkable as soon as I let it settle) and I have recently noticed a strange "screeching" sound that appears as the extraction process begins. I have yet to find an explanation for the sound...
 

JSACoffee

Member
Aug 26, 2016
34
0
East Central Wisconsin
In know you rinsed it, but there is still vinegar in there somewhere. Try this:. Take a small cup of any coffee and put a drop or two of vinegar in it, and stir. Now add your milk. It will curdle. Takes a very little bit of vinegar to curdle dairy in coffee.
 

PinkRose

Super Moderator
Staff member
Feb 28, 2008
5,226
11
Near Philadelphia, PA
In know you rinsed it, but there is still vinegar in there somewhere. Try this:. Take a small cup of any coffee and put a drop or two of vinegar in it, and stir. Now add your milk. It will curdle. Takes a very little bit of vinegar to curdle dairy in coffee.

Maybe the vinegar needs to neutralized somehow.

Baking soda neutralizes vinegar, but I'm not sure how it could be used in an espresso machine. It could be used to thoroughly wash the parts, though.

https://www.google.com/search?sourc....64.psy-ab..0.19.1134...0i131k1.0.iyaN4bW8TNw
 
OP
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BaristaMista

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Apr 17, 2018
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I suspect residual acids (vinegar)... I would first run multiple batches of water through your brewer.

Thanks for the tip. If you would've read my post completely, you wouldn't have missed the fact that I did run not just "multiple batches", but in fact several gallons of distilled water through it; "I ran several cleaning cycles with recommended cleaning tablets, followed by a couple gallons of alkaline and distilled water." That translates to several dozen cycles...

In know you rinsed it, but there is still vinegar in there somewhere. Try this
:. Take a small cup of any coffee and put a drop or two of vinegar in it, and stir. Now add your milk. It will curdle. Takes a very little bit of vinegar to curdle dairy in coffee.


Thanks for the response, yes that is true. If there is
some residue in my machine, I don't think I will be able to get it out through the regular cleaning cycles. I think I might have to take it apart and meticulously clean each of the components. I will also be able to search for a source of the strange sound I've started to hear.

Of course, thanks for your response, Rose!

I will keep you updated once I've tried to make another
cup of cap.

All the best,

Luis
 
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