Portable Chef Blog: Tasty Licks

Month: August 2013

Why Won’t My Milk Foam Up, Dammit?

I have an awesome milk provider.  Every weekend an Amish couple brings me raw milk, which would be illegal if it weren’t, um, for my pet; this stuff is a game-changer.  For the first time since 1985, I now sit down and have a glass of milk from time to time.  A straight-up glass of milk!

The biggest use we have for milk at Portable Chef Estates, though, is in cappuccinos (“cappuccini,” for the pedants among us, and I include myself in that crew).  Since receiving a Nespresso machine as a wedding gift, I’ve been on a pretty consistent four-cappuccinos-a-day habit.  The coffee’s very good but not the best by any stretch; what puts these machines over the top is how foolproof and effortless they make the process of making good coffee.  You turn it on, wait a few minutes, put in a pod of coffee, press a button, and that’s it: espresso.  To foam the milk, there’s a separate device, but just as easy: fill with milk to the line, press a button.  There’s no tamping, no cleaning, no nothing.  It is the best coffee you can make on a moment’s notice with such minimal effort.  And that’s worth a lot.

A key part of the cappuccino is the milk; a key part of the milk is the foam. Foam is what separates a cappuccino from a latte; while the foam-to-milk ratios vary from place to place, even among top-tier venues, a point of agreement is that a cappuccino is mostly foam; a latte is mostly milk.

Which made things very uncomfortable when one morning, my milk wouldn’t foam up.

It was one of the pretty frequent weeks in which my milk people didn’t deliver the goods; customer service is not the forte of the Amish. So I got a half-gallon of organic milk from the store, popped some in the milk frother, and started it up.

Nada. The milk frothed up just a little bit, and that foam disappeared as soon as the frother stopped moving around.

What gives? I did a little research.