Lattes, cappuccinos and mochas all use steamed, frothed milk to create that creamy, irresistible coffeehouse flavor. While creating the delicate, professional balance of texture and warmth in frothed milk requires a bit of practice, a soft, pliable foam that sits on the top of coffee drinks like a cloud can be created by any amateur barista at home. Any small at-home espresso machine with an attached steam arm will create the best froth for a treat any time of day.
Place about a half-cup to a cup of fresh milk into a small carafe that has an open mouth. The open mouth will allow the steam wand to sit in the milk as you are frothing.
Allow the espresso machine to heat up the water and test that the steam is ready by releasing the steam for a few seconds. If a vapor pours out of the steam wand and you hear the whistle of rushing steam, the machine is ready to use.
Dip the steam wand into the carafe of milk so that the tip of the wand sits halfway through the depth of the milk. Keep the tip of the steam wand at this general depth, rather than at the top of the milk or at the very bottom of the carafe.
Keep the steam wand in the milk for about 20 seconds to create a soft, shiny foam. Allow the steam wand to come close to the top of the milk about two times, for a second or two, within the 20 seconds to allow a small amount of air to get into the milk.
Remove the steam wand from the milk. Let the milk sit for about 20 seconds before adding to coffee or another drink.
Never steam milk for more than 40 seconds to avoid scalding the milk.