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I have this Delonghi espresso machine. After much trial and error, I have got to the point where my I am able to make cappuccinos and lattes with a milk texture which is pleasing to taste.

In order to make the textured milk/microfoam appropriate for a latte, rather than a foamy cappuccino, I had to remove the metal sleeve on the steam wand as this was preventing me from directing the wand precisely enough to swirl it into a microfoam.

However, I have the following issues:

  1. I still can't get a fine enough foam to produce latte art.

  2. My espresso and its crema do not seem dark enough to produce the contrast in colours you find in good latte art from a cafe.

  3. I cannot seem to get the coffee and the milk to as hot a temperature as you get in a cafe - even if I pre-heat my cup. Could this because many cafes serve their coffee too hot?

Is it possible that the machine itself is simply not good enough, or do I need to improve my technique?

Here is my latte:

My latte

And here is the sort of result I'd like to be able to achieve:

enter image description here

EDIT: Here is the type of milk pitcher I am using:

enter image description here

8

I own this machine and have since moved on from it for the exact reasons you stated.

It is possible to create microfoam that is good enough for making clearly defined latte art on the Delonghi Dedica but it requires practice (as would doing the same on any machine). You did the right thing by removing the metal sleeve but the main problem is that the steam power is relatively weak and so it makes it harder to create the vortex required to properly incorporate the aerated milk. Focus on trying to create a spinning vortex/whirlpool type effect in your milk as this is the most important step in ensuring you end up with silky milk.

  1. Aerate the milk by keeping the tip of the steam wand near the surface of the milk. You should hear spitting noises. This will introduce air into the milk.
  2. Once you have aerated enough, dip the tip of the steam wand below the surface and try to form a vortex/whirlpool.
  3. Spin the milk as in step 2 until the milk is at the right temperature.

For good latte milk, you should not over-aerate. A good starting point is simply raising the height of the milk in your pitcher by about a centimetre. Once again, however, it will require practice and even then it may not be perfect due to the lack of steaming power this machine has.

The Delonghi Dedica also uses a pressurised portafilter basket which means that the crema you find in your cup is a result of artificial pressures produced inside the basket (similar to how Nespresso machines make their 'crema'). You can attempt to create darker crema by making the pressurised basket not the limiting factor of extraction by grinding finer (but not so fine as to choke the machine).

Temperature-wise, you want to ensure that your portafilter is heated by running empty shots through it as it will cool down the shot as it moves through the portafilter. The steam is also not as hot as commercial machines as they have dedicated boilers for the steaming rather than interchanging between functions within a few seconds like the Delonghi.

In conclusion, if you enjoy your coffee the way you make it, stick with the Delonghi Dedica but if you put a lot of value in the quality of the crema and being able to pour latte art then you might want to consider an upgrade or investing more time into practicing milk steaming.

  • Thanks, this is really great advice - I will try grinding my next batch a little finer to see if that helps with the crema, and will keep practicing the steaming technique... I'll let you know if I get results! – Bekahland Feb 16 '17 at 10:19
  • Make sure that you grind finer by small increments and seeing the results so you can better track what the best setting is. Also after switching to steaming mode, let the machine sit for 10 seconds or so to let it build up some steam pressure and heat before you start steaming. I'm glad I could help, good luck! – Shiri Feb 16 '17 at 11:35
  • @Shiri What machine did you move onto? – Evan R Oct 15 '17 at 9:32
  • @EvanR Bezzera Unica, a single boiler E61 with PID. – Shiri Oct 15 '17 at 9:53
4

I've steamed milk on my friend's Saeco Aroma, which seems to be in the same class as your Delonghi, and was able to get good microfoam. Aside from getting some pointers along the way, the key is practice. It took me years to master consistently steamed milk worthy of latte art. You'll probably get something decent if you keep working at it, but then you'll lose it, and you'll go back and forth in that cycle (unless you pick up a job at a coffee shop and make 100 drinks/day). Anyway, here's some pointers to get you started.

  1. Incorporate as much air as you can until the milk roughly reaches the temperature of your hand (think 95 - 105 F). You're going to need all that air, as the steam wand doesn't have enough power to work with less air. Then dip the wand for the remainder of the time, trying to fold all those bubbles into the milk. Steam until you can't bare to touch the pitcher anymore, then wait an additional 5-10 seconds (I wait for about 2 seconds on my machine, but yours will take a bit longer).
  2. You're probably not going to be able to get a vortex going. If you can, great, but if not, it's not the secret to microfoam. It just helps fold the bubbles in.
  3. What kind of pitcher are you using? You'll need something with a pointed tip (i.e. don't use one that is marketed for latte art). Here's what I use. Rounded pitchers, like the one at Bed, Bath & Beyond suck!

I can't really help with the espresso. I've found that to be totally dependent on the machine you have. You could try Shiri's advice. You could try preinfusion (google it). You could try pulling it shorter, so it doesn't get watered down too much.

Here's a picture of my latte art as credibility. enter image description here

  • Thanks - good to know. I have added a photo of the pitcher I'm using to my question above, it looks similar to the one you linked to though. I can actually create a nice whirling vortex of milk if I angle it right, although it takes a few seconds to get started. You're right about the practice - it's taken me over a year just to get to this point, it's good fun though, at the beginning I don't think I even expected to get this far, and I also get to drink lots of coffee in the process! – Bekahland Feb 16 '17 at 10:16
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    I would not overheat the milk. Hold the pitcher by the handle with one hand and touch it with the palm of your other hand on the side towards the bottom. Once it gets too hot to touch for longer than a moment, it is done. If you heat it up for longer you'll burn the milk which makes it bitter and get foam that's too thick. The surface of the drink should be smooth and glossy (as in the picture of the first post) and not bubbly. Source: own experience from working in specialty coffee. – avocado1 Feb 17 '17 at 15:15
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    Yea, those bubbles are from the espresso, not the milk. And 140 degrees F is what I shoot for with milk, which is about what it should be per my directions. – nateclonch Feb 18 '17 at 21:35
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    Here are two videos that were especially helpful for me: youtube.com/watch?v=i4xTz_OwlSQ and youtube.com/watch?v=eqs1HhiGHck – nateclonch Feb 18 '17 at 21:41
  • @nateclonch Those bubbles are quite obviously from the milk as they appear in all areas, independently of how much the milk foam mixed with the crema. But in order to get rid of crema bubbles just swirl the cup and tap it a couple of times on a counter. – avocado1 Jul 24 '18 at 16:13
2

"I still can't get a fine enough foam to produce latte art."

If you are not satisfied with your milk foam because of the small bubbles on the surface, then try to "bump" the pitcher (knock the table with the pitcher). It will remove the bubbles and it will make foam more uniform.

"My espresso and its crema do not seem dark enough to produce the contrast in colours you find in good latte art from a cafe."

The answer is classic: fresh ground coffee (better use real burr grinder), with some robusta (20-30% it gives better crema), for darker color just find proper beans (you can try to buy beans in the coffee shop to compare your result with their result)

"I cannot seem to get the coffee and the milk to as hot a temperature as you get in a cafe - even if I pre-heat my cup. Could this because many cafes serve their coffee too hot?"

Probably the reason is the milk's temperature, not the espresso temperature. After getting enough of foam, put the steam wand deep down into the milk, it will warm it more.

1

I have had this exact same machine for about 1 month and am realizing that it is just much more difficult (so far impossible for me) to get art-quality micro-foam out of it for two reasons:

1- Steam is not consistently strong enough, and 2- The wand (after you remove the panarello) is too short

However, it makes tasty espresso, tasty foam (albeit not art quality) and the form-factor and design elements of it is pleasing enough for me to keep it and still enjoy it.

Anyway good luck and please let me know and share your tips if you succeed, as I could leverage your learning.

On a final note, with a considerable amount of effort, it is possible to swap out the wand for a professional one. See the explanation and the video below (Note: I have not yet done this mod to my own machine)

http://www.cfdesign.work/derancilio/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AOTa3bEpYM

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I'm finally able to steam milk to perfection and make acceptable latte art with this machine. You have to remove the panarello of course. Here is a sample picture. enter image description here

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