Beginner’s Guide to Pour Over Steamers
- By Astra Espresso Specialist
- Jan 12, 2021
There are many ways to create better coffee using your espresso machine that include different kinds of beans, grinders that give those beans perfect consistency, and syrups or spices that enhance the taste. Some people love to use flavored creamers and some enjoy the simple milk and sugar additions. What really makes a great gourmet coffee drink, though, is not just the way it tastes but also how it looks. Milk steamers offer the easiest way to foam milk quickly & conveniently to top off your coffee and create the ultimate gourmet experience.
Why Use a Pour Over Steamer?
Many commercial-grade espresso machines have automatic or manual steaming capabilities (such as our semi-automatic, automatic, or super automatic espresso machines). For machines that do not offer steaming, you can still enjoy lattes without the use of milk steamers but several of the methods involve complicated steps and heating milk without a temperature regulator.
When you steam milk into foam, the milk must be heated and then air is added to the heated product to create foam. Without a pour over steamer, you have to heat the milk over a heat source and then add the air using a whisk or other method like pumping it in a French press canister. Pour over steamers do all of that work for you so that all you have to do is put the cup of cold milk under the steamer wand and move it around as the hot air from the wand steams the milk evenly.
Steamed milk should remain at a specific temperature throughout the entire process and when you’re using other methods besides pour over steamers, it’s difficult to maintain that temperature regulation. Fully automatic steamers do this for you so that all you have to do is turn on the machine and let the steamer wand do the work. Most steamers have a temperature regulation gauge on the machine that shows you what’s happening while you’re steaming your milk. A more manual machine allows the user to adjust this temperature but in most cases, this function is automatic and you should only be using the temperature regulation gauge as an indicator to tell if something is wrong.
Your milk steaming needs may extend beyond what your espresso machine can handle if you run a business that centers on beverage distribution. Your café or café setup in the workplace could warrant the use of commercial steamers due to the amount of traffic that the machine handles on a daily basis. Consider the amount of people that will use the steamers and the amount of drinks each of those people will make that include foamed milk. A stand-alone steamer is perfect in these situations to keep up with demand and ensure operations (and sales) aren’t delayed.
Semi-automatic or Automatic?
Astra automatic and semi-automatic machines all offer Astra’s ‘Continuous Steam’ for uninterrupted service with little to no recovery time between service. These machines have a steamer wand (or wands) on the machine itself. Hot water is stored in a boiler tank and is ready to steam milk at a moment’s notice. There is also a temperature regulator and pressure gauge on the machine so you know it’s working properly.
The automatic steamers offer enhanced capabilities for those that want truly automatic steaming capabilities. These steamers offer automatic temperature control at the touch of a button. They also include a thermocoupled, cool-touch stainless steel steam wand that allows the operator to quickly exchange pitchers or cups out for continuous, uninterrupted use.
Steam Milk with Confidence
Fully automatic milk steamers are pretty easy to use because they regulate temperature and pressure without your manual involvement. All you have to do is measure cold milk into a stainless steel cup, position it under the steamer wand so it is in the milk, turn on the wand, and twirl the cup as the hot air is added evenly.
Manual steamers take more time to master but give you the ability to create the perfect result for many types of drinks and recipes. Before you start, it’s a good idea to “clear” the steamer wand by turning it on for a couple of seconds to let steam come out before the wand is put into the milk. There will be some trial and error to the process until you get your machine set to the perfect setting.
No matter which machine you purchase, learning how to properly use your steamer in order to create the gourmet drinks you enjoy is important. If you find you need more assistance, our team of Astra experts can help guide you along installation and use of your steamers - just call (818) 340-1800 or reach out via our support form.