Steaming Milk

How to Steam Milk

Learn how to steam milk to make that perfect latte or cappuccino. You'll need the fundamentals here to learn how to make latte art.


For non-video folks - here are the instructions in written form. However, it is important to hear the sound of good milk steaming. That sound is the key to consistency.

  1. Add cold milk into your pitcher. For best results, keep milk level below the base of the pour spout groove. You can see this from the inside of the pitcher.
  2. Aim the steam wand over the drip tray and release the condensation sitting in the steam wand by turning it on and letting it run for a few seconds until just steam - and no water - is coming out. Turn steam off.
  3. Return steam wand to normal position, facing pour and place the steam wand tip into milk so that only half of the steam tip is visible. Be careful to not have it too far submerged, or sitting too far above the milk.
  4. Check your location before you start. You want your tip to be between the center and the edge of the pitcher on either the left or the right side.
  5. Begin steaming! You will want to immediately hear a slight suctioning sound. If you do not hear anything, bring your steam tip further up towards the surface until you do. If the steam wand is making big bubble sounds, bring the steam tip just slightly lower in the pitcher. The more hissing/suctioning you hear, the more air is being incorporated and the more foam you will have.
  6. You will want to incorporate the air into the pitcher until the pitcher begins to warm up, or get to be about the temperature of your hand. Once your pitcher feels warm, stay in the same location and bring the steam tip slightly below the surface. This is a very subtle movement, so be careful not to bring the steam wand too low otherwise you will not get the vortex, or swirling needed to achieve the silky and uniform texture.
  7. While the milk is swirling and mixing, pay attention to the temperature. You will want to keep the vortex going until the pitcher goes from warm to hot. The pitcher should be hot to the touch, but not uncomfortable. Shut the steam off.
  8. Remove steam wand from the milk and wipe your steam wand with a wet towel before purging the steam wand again. Be careful not to burn yourself, aiming the steam wand over the drip tray when purging is a safe way to do this.

9. You will almost always have to give your milk pitcher a few taps on the counter to rid the pitcher of bubbles and give it a few firm swirls to help even out the texture.

Think you've nailed it? Then let's move on to how to make latte art!