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I'm learning to brew coffee, and one of my aspirations is to be able to brew a good, solid cup of latte, with the milk foamed just right all the way through. I'm getting there, but beyond that point, I want to be able to create latte art. In a few months, I'll have to buy my own machine to practice on.

Our current machine (a small household unit with a copper boiler) has good pressure for foaming milk, but apparently that pressure isn't sufficient for being able to produce microfoam, which I understand is necessary for good latte art.

When I shop for a new machine, what qualities do I need from it to be able to properly produce latte art? I'm aware I need an angled wand, but I've heard conflicting reports on the amount of pressure involved and other factors.

  • +1 for detailed question. – therewillbecoffee Feb 5 '15 at 14:43
  • I would like to know as well. – Mayo Feb 5 '15 at 23:46
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In my experience, it is difficult to achieve perfect microfoam with a home brewing espresso machine.

Essentially what you need is a 15 bar pump and a boiler chamber big enough to hold enough steam to have higher pressure and volumes of steam.

Unfortunately, this usually means you need to buy a bigger espresso machine which means it is going to be a bit more pricey.

Since manufacturers don't always give technical specifications on what size boilers they use, you may have to rely on customer reviews for this aspect. They should always give the strength of the pump though.

In my own personal experience, the smallest espresso machine with which I have been able to achieve perfect microfoam is this. However, I was professionally trained in a coffee shop for two years using an industrial machine. For you, I might recommend that you go up a size or two. Breville is an excellent brand and has good machines that make good foam.

Aside from that, you do want a 360 degree rotational steam wand so you can control your milk. Also, you want your steam wand to just be plain and simple and not have one of those 'frothing helpers' for beginners. Most come with it but are removable. You will need to learn how to control air injection on your own.

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