Got Milk... the key to perfect steamed milk.

There is an insight used by the very clever marketers in the coffee industry to convince us that a Barista knows what he/she are doing - they can do good latte art!! The logic is that if a Barista can do a swan in a flat white then they must be able to make a good coffee. And there is truth in that. It takes thousands of cups of coffee and some pretty good disciplines to do latte art. But you can do latte art in terrible coffee.
Taking latte art out of the equation there is one massive “don’t” when making milk. Don’t over heat it!
Milk is a natural substance. It’s primary function is to sustain life for a time while an infant develops sufficiently to move to a full diet. It is full of good stuff broadly broken down into milk fats, milk protein and milk sugar with water as a carrier.
Vegetable based milks such as soy, almond or rice are completely different but the chemical principles are roughly the same.
The proteins in milk start to “denature” or breakdown once milk gets over 65 degrees. The burnt milk smell you can detect over 65 is the milk protein releasing sulphur as it unravels. This really spoils any good coffee.
The process of texturising milk into a smooth creamy and silky liquid is the process of allowing air to be introduced into the milk under pressure. The milk proteins and fats trap the air and as you continue to work or stretch the milk the air is further distributed. The shininess is the sheen of micro air particles spread evenly through the milk.
To achieve the perfect foam don’t over aerate as big bubbles don’t hold in the milk - unless you are aiming to make a 1970s cappuccino. Oppositely don’t under aerate or all you will have is hot milk
Do use fresh milk. Milk keeps to 16 days refrigerated shelf life and milk at the end of its Use By is harder to texturise. The enzymes have broken down the protein and fats and the acid level has increased making it almost impossible to hold the air.
Do have a clean steam wand and equipment. Dirt or a blocked nozzle makes it hard to foam and a little bit of detergent left in the milk jug and you just may get a super foam that takes likes Palmolive.
Do use you milk quickly after steaming as the air will rise. The experts transfer to a second jug to aide evenness of the foam.
Do put the right amount of milk in the jug and use the correct jug. Jibbi Littles jugs are pretty good. Too much milk and it will spill over and not enough and you will draw too much air in.
Do practice and practice and practice. The guide is 1000 cups and you will be able to perfect your first piece of latte art!