The optimum milk frothing temperature is between 60℃ and 70℃, and the only precise way for baristas to ensure they are hitting this range consistently is by using a thermometer.
Professional baristas use stick and label thermometers to take the guesswork out of milk frothing, their aim being to reproduce velvety-textured delicious foam over and over again. Successfully stretching and steaming milk can only be achieved by mastering three things – temperature, time and using the right milk for the job.
The clear winners from the multi-year growth in coffee in the out of home market are cappuccino and latte. Getting the temperature right for the milk is key because profoundly affects both the taste and texture of the foam. If it’s too hot, the milk can boil, changing its flavour profile from naturally sweet to more bitter. Thermometers assist in making sure your cappuccino, latte, flat white or café mocha will not be too hot or cold ever again.
Skilled, experienced baristas are able to determine when a pitcher of milk has reached the correct temperature, but many outlets have more than one barista and staff turnover can be an issue. Therefore two lattes in the same coffee shop can taste very different unless the espresso brewing and milk foaming processes are controlled and regularly monitored.