What's the best way to get the best foam? I have a machine and I think it's 15 pumps/minute (or second...can't remember now) and I usually use fat free milk. Am I doing it right? I have a thermometer, and it does get foam, it just doesn't stay that way.
The foam I get from Starbucks or Coffee Bean seems to last for hours...any tips?
Skim milk actually foams better than higher fat milk, apparently (I think I may have read this on coffeegeek.com or wholelottalatte.com). The trick to getting really good, dense foam that lasts is to start by putting the tip of the steamer just barely under the surface of the milk, off to the side of the milk container. The action of the steamer should swirl the milk around in the container. And if you can pull the slightest bit of air in with the tip (i.e., it is almost, but not quite submerged), you will get that lovely microfoam that lasts and lasts. Once you have the foam you want, then you can plunge the whole wand in to heat the milk. Cold milk foams better than warm milk, so always heat the milk after foaming. If you check around on coffeegeek or wholelottalatte, I believe there is a video demo that shows you the technique. It's how I finally mastered foaming. G'luck!
Oops... just realized that I wrote the wrong web site. It's www.wholelattelove.com. Sorry!
I worked for Starbucks for 6 years--this is the way we did it. If it's a home espresso maker, take off the rubber tip--it makes horrible foam and simply gets messy. Just use the metal part. The milk will make a sucking sound when it's being properly foamed. If it's making more of a whirring sound you have the steam wand in too far.