Steaming and Frothing
A number of Gaggia espresso machines come equipped with a specialized milk frothing attachment called a Pannarello Wand. The Pannarello Wand is a device that attaches to the steam arm of the espresso machine and aids in simplifying the frothing process, which can be intimidating to first time users. Depending on the machine, the wand may be made of plastic, metal, or a combination of both.
Begin by purging the wand of any water that may have collected in it by opening the steam valve.
When the wand has been purged, fill your frothing pitcher 1/3 of the way full and submerge the tip of the Pannarello Wand deep beneath the surface of the milk. Open the steam valve again to begin frothing.
No matter the design, every Pannarello Wand operates the same way. On the side of each wand is a small air intake hole that sucks in air and injects it into the milk, creating froth. When you want to stop frothing the milk, simply cover or submerge the hole. At this point, the wand will continue to heat the milk until it is removed.
When frothing milk, a frothing thermometer is helpful as you want to make sure that your milk is never heated past 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you aren't going to immediately add the milk to your espresso, it's recommended that you continually swirl the milk in the pitcher to ensure that it maintains its creamy texture.
* Be sure to remove and clean the Pannarello Wand after each use to prevent the buildup of milk residue and keep the wand performing properly.
How to Maintain your Pannarello Wand
- In order to ensure the performance quality of your Pannarello Wand, regular maintenance is necessary to prevent milk residue from building up and impeding its functionality. It is important to clean your wand after each use, with particular attention being paid to the air intake hole as you will no longer be able to create froth if it becomes clogged.
- Gaggia Pannarello Wands are made out of five components. The cap nut, the inner wand, a small plastic gasket, a large rubber gasket, and the frothing sleeve.
- To remove the Pannarello Wand, begin by sliding the frothing sleeve off of the inner wand.
- To remove the inner wand, grasp it between your thumb and forefinger and with your opposite hand, unscrew the cap nut which holds it in place.
- When the nut has been fully unscrewed, you will be able to slide the inner wand off of the steam arm, when you do, take care not to lose the small plastic gasket located between the inner wand and the cap nut.
- There is a second, larger rubber gasket that often remains lodged inside of the inner wand after removal. This gasket can be pried out of the inner wand with the use of a small screwdriver or a similar tool. Remove the cap nut and you can begin cleaning the Pannarello Wand.
- When you have cleaned your wand and it comes time to replace it, begin by sliding the cap nut, back onto the steam arm, followed by the small gasket, and then the large gasket.
- With the gaskets and cap nut in place, slide the inner wand back up the arm and back into the cap nut.
- Tighten the cap nut until the inner wand is secure and replace the frothing sleeve. When everything is back in place, gently tug on the wand to make sure that it is secure and won't slide off during frothing.
- There may be some slight variation in the designs of the wands that come with each machine, but the process outlined above is applies to all varieties of Pannarello Wands currently offered by Gaggia.
STEAMING VS FROTHING
A common question among newcomers to the world of home espresso pertains to the difference between steaming and frothing milk. To the inexperienced home barista, the difference may not seem to be of much import, but there are key differences in the two processes that will ultimately produce different types of milk, which are required for different types of drinks. What follows is a brief overview, outlining the differences in the two types of milk that can be prepared using your espresso machine.
Steamed milk is produced by heating the milk with the steam wand. Steamed milk is less dense than frothed milk, although it may still have a bit of foam on top. To steam milk, you need to place the tip of the steam wand just under the surface, positioning it in such a way that creates vortex, causing the milk to spin in the pitcher. This will result in the milk being heated evenly. Using a frothing thermometer, you will be able to tell when your milk has reached the ideal temperature, so that you know when to stop steaming. Steamed milk is the cornerstone of the traditional latte.
Frothed milk is produced not only by heating the milk with the steam wand, but by using it to inject air into the milk, creating small bubbles that will become the foam on your cappuccino. To froth milk, you should also place the tip of your steam wand just above the surface of your milk. However, you will need to continually lower your frothing pitcher as the milk expands in volume. As with steaming the milk, you will want to position the wand so that it creates a vortex in the milk. A traditional cappuccino is made with the ratio of 1/3 espresso - 1/3 steamed milk - and 1/3 frothed milk.
When steaming and frothing milk for drinks like cappuccinos and lattes, an important factor to consider is the temperature of your milk. Regular whole cow's milk is a beverage composed primarily of two types of proteins. Caseins, account for about 80% of the milk, and whey proteins make up the remaining 20%. Ideally, steamed or frothed milk will be between 140-160 degrees fahrenheit, depending on your preferences. It is important however not to exceed the 160 degree temperature ceiling, as the proteins in the milk will denature and the milk will begin to boil; when that happens, producing microfoam will no longer be possible.
To avoid overheating milk during the frothing process, we strongly recommend using a thermometer to monitor the temperature while frothing. Specially calibrated thermometers are available that indicate the ideal temperature zone while for frothing milk. When frothing with a thermometer, it is important to remove the steam wand from the milk before the thermometer reaches 160 degrees, because the temperature on the thermometer will continue to rise for a few seconds after the heat source has been removed.