OK, You've chosen a coffee maker espresso machine for home use, and you've installed it on your kitchen counter. You've found your favorite espresso beans. You've found the perfect grind setting, and you've figured out how to get the portafilter locked into position. You press the button, and voila! You have a great shot of espresso.
Now that you've got that down, you're ready to move on to lattes, and – gasp! – maybe even a cappuccino! It's time to figure out how to deal with the milk.
Some types of coffee maker espresso machine come with a small stainless steel pitcher for steaming and frothing milk. If you did not, you can find one online or at your favorite cafe. Be sure to find one that easily fits under your machine's frothing wand.
Preparing the Milk
Believe it or not, non-fat and low-fat milk is the easiest to create foam with. Please do not ask me to explain the science behind this, but it's true. Whole milk still makes good foam, but it just takes a little more practice to get the hang of it. The same thing applies to making a breve, which is a latte made with half and half. (Delicious! If you have not tried a breve, it's worth the calorie splurge.)
Next, which type of milk you choose, make sure both it and your stainless steel pitcher are very cold. Keep both the milk and the pitcher in the refrigerator for the best results.
Since the volume of the milk expands as you steam it (and even more so if you're making foam), be sure to allow room in your pitcher. Never fill your pitcher up more than half way – you'll have a mess to clean up otherwise!
Using the Steaming Wand on Your Coffee Maker Espresso Machine
Most types of coffee maker espresso machine have a built in steam nozzle, which is convenient and saves space. If yours does not, you may need to buy a separate milk steamer.
Before turning on the steamer, be sure to submerse the nozzle well under the surface level of the milk and start with low pressure at first. If you start with the nozzle to close to the surface, and with the power on too high, the milk will sputter everywhere and you'll make a mess. Once you get the power going to a pretty nice speed, lower the pitcher until the end of the nozzle is just below the milk's surface, about a half an inch. As the milk steams and expanss, lower the pitcher to keep the end of the nozzle just under the surface. This process steams the milk and produces a little bit of foam, which is perfect for a latte.
If you're making a cappuccino, you'll need more foam. (The perfect cappuccino is one-third espresso, one-third steamed milk, and one-third foam.) To make foam, you want to have the nozzle of the coffee maker espresso machine barely skimming the surface of the milk. You'll know you've got it right when you hear a hole "hissing" sound. This creates lots of bubbles – so be careful. What you're looking to create are "microbubbles", not big bubbles. (If you end up with larger bubbles, tap the bottom of your pitcher on your counter top a few times to knock them out.) Do not get discouraged if you have trouble at first. This is a learned skill, and it takes some practice to get it just right.
A Word About Temperature
You want the milk to be between 140 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit – and you definitely do not want it to boil! It the milk gets too hot too fast, you will not have enough time to create the foam that you want. Also, scorched milk tastes horrible! Practice will teach you how to control the knob on your coffee maker espresso machine to apply the right amount of hot air into the milk. The best policy is to invest in a thermometer. You can usually find a professional barista milk thermometer online, or even an inexpensive one that will work just fine in your grocery store.
Now, with a little bit of practice, you'll be making drinks with your coffee machine that rival the best barista's talents at your local coffee shop – and from the comfort of your own home!