What's the function of the steam option in a coffee machine?

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

Steam is needed in an espresso machine setup to prepare various espresso based milk beverages such as a macchiato, cappuccino, latte etc.

Steam dispensed through the steam wand helps not only to heat the milk up to the correct beverage temperature (usually between 60 to 65 °C) but also to create a micro foam by injecting air into the milk along with the steam. This micro foamed milk typically has the consistency and look of wet paint. Micro foamed milk is a must for creating latte art on an espresso beverage’s surface.

Image: creating latte art with steamed milk

There are some secondary uses too for the steam wand in an espresso setup -

Steam from the steam wand can be used to heat up room temperature water for americano & long blacks - also espresso based beverages, or to quickly heat up porcelain cups etc. - especially in machines which don’t have a hot water dispensing wand.

In addition, the steam wand is useful in daily maintenance of some espresso workstation surfaces - such as bean hoppers made of clear PC which tend to gather coffee bean oils and turns an ugly dark brown if not cleaned regularly, the steel base of a tamper, bean scoop etc for the same reasons of coffee oil residue.

Do check out our coffee hardware vendor directory to find out where to buy espresso machines in India.

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