Wednesday, November 01, 2006


the vibiemme: steaming milk

vibiemme steam wandto continue from yesterday's real shot on the vibiemme domobar super electronic -- a.k.a. caesar -- this morning i wanted to make my first effort at steaming milk. let's take it back to the hilarious italian manual.

the manual tells you only 4 useful items in passing:

  1. after pulling the shot, wait until caesar's boiler pressure gauge -- his "left eye" -- floats up to 1.1 bar before opening the steam wand
  2. taking the steam wand by the rubber sleeve (if you love your fingerprints; caesar is hot!), move it over the drip tray and open the valve for a couple of seconds to blow off any trapped water and/or air
  3. then place the steam head parallel (flat) to the surface of the milk at 4 o'clock in the milk jug
  4. after steaming, again move the wand over the drip tray and again release some steam to clear the steam holes of any clogged milk

bingo. so here we go.

when i turn caesar on and let him come up to heat, he sits squarely at 1 bar. it's very difficult to get him to budge from 1 bar; he holds his temperature like money: tight.

honestly, i've never seen him at less than .9. after i pull a shot, if i wait about 2 seconds, the heat light goes back on, and his gauge goes back up to 1.1 for about 3 seconds before it floats down to 1 bar.

since i want 2 cappuccini, i put 6 oz. cold milk in my chilled metal pitcher.

since the manual says to open the steam at 1.1, i watched the gauge like a hawk and opened the steam tap as soon as it said 1.1. as the air/water came outta the steam tap, the gauge fell back to 1.

then i close the steam tap, put the wand level at the top of the milk, open the tap half-way and boom! the sweet hissing sound of tearing cotton sheets.

no sucking, gurgling, bubbling, or rude noises. i peered down into my little 12 oz. metal latte art pitcher to find it full to the top.

instant perfect microfoam -- like in 7 seconds. it's scary how well caesar steams.

by the end of steaming, the gauge is back down to about .9. i closed the tap, and a second or two later it's back to 1.

wow. as i still pour about 1 "monkey butt" for every 2 nice apples (obviously i try to specialize in latte art apples -- it's nyc after all!), i'm not going to go on and on about this. because that would be lying: i'm not a latte artist and i can't play one on the internet.

but i will say caesar gave me excellent foam on the first try. maybe i just got lucky, you never know.

certainly i will say that steaming is much easier on caesar than silvia or carlos expobar. clean up is too.

look at the steam wand detail above (i cut this pic onto white because otherwise caesar's mirror-bright body just reflects too madly). one of the things you'll notice is the joint where the steam head meets the arm.

can you see how nicely they're put together? unlike silvia, there's no little groove there for pesky milk to get stuck in.

i can't tell you how hard it can be to get out the tiny wedge of burnt milk that often seemed to get stuck in that joint where the diamond-shaped head met silvia's steam arm. carlos wasn't nearly that hard to clean, i must say.

but caesar is the easiest. one wipe gets all the milk residue off, no secret niches for milk to hide in.

but again, caesar is hot! be careful not to burn yourself wiping the milk off; and wipe the wand instantly, or else it will immediately burn and bond onto the steam head.

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posted by fortune | 7:49 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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