Okay, here’s the deal.
I can forgive a bad shot of espresso.
There are times when a barista can pull a shot, have it pour just like the last one they pulled (which they personally tasted and found to be excellent), have it show all the visual signs of a great mother flecking shot, and yet it will somehow taste about as good as wet cement.
Like I said though, I can forgive that.
Steaming your milk too hot, however, and then serving it to me? Head on over to the confession booth, because that is not in my power to forgive.
If we, as baristas, are serving in the front line of infantry in the war against bad coffee, then steaming milk too hot is a war crime.
What is too hot, you ask? Let’s take a look together.
Note: The following applies to all drinks 6 ounces or smaller.
Casually speaking: If you can’t take a sip/hold the cup the instant you’ve picked up your drink, then it’s too hot. Probably obvious to most people, but you’d be surprised. Even at some of the city’s most elite, award winning cafes, I will somehow manage to pick up a macchiato or capp that cluster bombs my taste buds, leaving them unusable for the rest of the day.
Technically speaking: 130ish is great. Anything over 140 degrees is unacceptable. This is a 6oz drink that is meant to last a few minutes, not the rest of the week. After this point in temperature the protein compounds in the milk begin to break down and events start taking place that are reserved for mention only in the book of Revelations.
I won’t even bother to go into any more explanation on here, as Aaron DeLazzer already has said everything you need to know in an article on coffeegeek. Definitely click here if you haven’t read it. May I also add that he wrote it in 2003, giving everyone more than enough time to put the words into practice.
Personally speaking: I’ve been known to go as low as 120. I know that’s probably a little extreme though. Feel free to slander my name through the streets and alleyways of Vancouver and the blogosphere if you feel the need to.
So what’s the point?
That steaming milk should be routine and consistent. And seeing as there isn’t a single uncontrollable variable involved, there really is no excuse for it not to be. Except of course, if you never knew before.
But now you do – so no excuses.
Note: Sometimes it’s hard to capture a tone in a blog, so take note that I’m not jumping around screaming this into a mic on a podium in front of a nation, but rather using my after dinner conversation voice.
Please don’t make me be one of those people who has to mod their drink at the cash, that’s so uncool. It’s almost comical sometimes at how much care a barista will put into the espresso shot, but then make it completely irrelevant by ruining their milk.
Thoughts? Am I a minority here?