How to make the perfect foam?



I actually had a customer order a "dry cap" today and she EXPECTED a cap, not the "cappucino" served at 7-11!

Problem was, I haven't had a lot of experience making the volume of foam needed for a tall cap!

I started with a cold pitcher and cold milk. I blew off the nozzle first, then held the nozzle of the wand close to the side of the pitcher and kept it just beneath the surface of the milk. Once the temperature hit about 150, I stopped and it climbed to a top temp of about 165.

I got nice foam, but it wasn't the thick, stick-to-the-spoon type I needed. I pulled as much off the top as I could then started over again. This time I let the temp climb as high as 190. I got a nice volume of foam, but worried the milk might be somewhat scorched at that point...

Despite all that, I still ended up with a somewhat wet cap, and it took me a long time to make :(

How do you make the perfect foam? What's the max temp to which you should heat the milk? Give me some tips!!

Thanks for your help!
For a "dry" tall capp you will need to stretch the milk pretty much the whole time you are steaming it (holding the wand tip right at the surface of the milk, listening for the hissing sound, this is when air is being induced into the milk and where you get your foam. You are trying to acheive a consistency almost like wet latex paint to the eye ... even a capp should have a microfoam "shiny" appearance. Never steam the milk past 160 degrees, this will not help you get more foam. Once milk surpasses 160 what you have done is eliminated all of the sugars in the milk that give it that sweet taste and you are now over cooking the protiens (like a steak), yuck.

You may want to get a training video like Espresso 101 by Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup. there is a good section on the art of steaming milk as well as proper shot extraction and much more.

Usually if someone orders a "dry" capp I will ask "Do you like a lot of foam or a little" ... often the consumer expects a dryer foam but is not wanting 20oz of tasteless air bubbles. There is always a chance that they do not really understand the difference of a Latte and a Cappuccino and expect a very similar drink. Cappuccinos should be served 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 foam.

In Italy a Cappuccino is never served in a cup larger than 6-8oz and along with straight shots is the most popular morning drink. Capp's should be served one way traditionally.

Good luck, and remember, there is always Barista School :)

160 is the right temp
Make your foam first, them put it in the fridge while you get the espresso ready, pull the espresso shot then take out your milk, this'll stiffen it up a bit.

Start with a cold pitcher and cold milk.
Go with 2% if your using homo, the less milk fat, the easier it is to make more foam.

Otherwise you're doing it all correctly ie
Purge the wand,
Steam with the tip just below the surface (LISTEN for the right sound, no need to look, cuz you can't really see where the tip is anyway) Should be a SLIGHT hissing suond, not a loud one.

Stretch all the way to 160ish (for an American style capp -lotsa heaped foam)
Put the milk in the fridge now, then pull the espresso shot
hmm, who wrote to let the shot sit? If it was me... :-D I meant for dry foam: let the foam sit then make your shot, then pour the 'sat' foam in with the shot :lol:
Should I have said 'satted' or 'satterer' or 'most sittedest'

Just kidding ...lamely, mind you.
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My BAD, Sinister. You are correct, I should have read your post better. I apologize my hasty post.
Hello everyone, I'm new to this site, and I just joined and I have a passion for coffee. I'm only 17 so I still have school and not alot of time :( . so how would I make a good cappucino and make a good froth at home?
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romeo, what are you using at home as a machine?
try this...

just add a few drops of sugar substitute to the cold milk...
it doesnt change the taste but the result is a "stick to the spoon" foam that will last longer than it would without it.

let me know if it worked for you, it hasnt failed me yet.
one problem might be that your espresso machine doesnt have enough water pressure. a weak steamer results in a crap cap. if your still having trouble try using skim milk. in my opinion skim foams a lot better than whole.

Yeah, I'm another newbie, and have a similar problem to Romeo's. I have a regular coffee maker, generally grind my own beans, and a little battery operated frother thingy i got free for buying coffee filters. :wink: How would you suggest getting the best froth?
A couple thoughts:

1) Always start with a COLD steaming pitcher. This allows for a longer steaming time from start to finish (no more than 160deg). We turn off our steam wand at 140 on the thermometer, and it always climbs to 160 after the steam is off and the thermometer catches up. Find the right combination for your machine.

2) If you steam your milk first and then pull your shots, not only will your shots be fresher, but your milk will have time to settle and the foam fully rise to the top.

3) Read this guide from Coffee Geek -

Good luck.....