Working in the industry for a few years now, if there is anything that comes second nature in espresso making it would be steaming milk.

BUT i find such variation in temperature of
a) the initial stretching phase, and
b) the finished product
from shop to shop, workplace to workplace.

I think the stretching phase should last no higher than 35°C and the finished product 65°C - 70°C.

What do you guys think? any input/info would be cool :)

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35°C = 95°F

65°-70°C = 150°-158°F

I helped at an SCAA training workshop a few weekends ago, and that was about what we taught. This is also what we do at my shop.

I'll not go any hotter than 170°F for "Extra Hot" unless it is explicitly demanded. I do have a good customer that insists on 180 and will give it back if it isn't. I tried lying to her a few times, this was not successful. I now do 180 for her.

I'll also not serve a drink at a temp lower than 145°F for food safety reasons.

b
What are the food safety issues involved in serving milk below 145? I'm afraid to ask. I serve iced lattes all day, which are obviously below that. Or is it the danger zone you're avoiding (40 - 140)?

Brady said:

I'll also not serve a drink at a temp lower than 145°F for food safety reasons.

b
John Kijote said:
What are the food safety issues involved in serving milk below 145? I'm afraid to ask. I serve iced lattes all day, which are obviously below that. Or is it the danger zone you're avoiding (40 - 140)?
Brady said:

I'll also not serve a drink at a temp lower than 145°F for food safety reasons. b

It's the danger zone. I too serve iced lattes. Not sure how much actual risk there is if I start with fresh milk that has been stored below 40 until just before use and will be consumed within 10-15 minutes of serving... but I figure its best to be safe.

Incidentally, I looked it up and the guidelines were to froth only until 100 Deg-F and steam to between 150-160 Deg-F.
I think you guys might be overthinking the food safety issue. Heating to 145 is to kill any pathogen that might already be in the food. Milk is pasteurized and served straight out of the jug. In addition, most rules state that you have 2-4 hours once a food is removed from temperature control before it must be thrown out.
That said, I usually don't even use a thermometer anymore, except to check special temp drinks. I stop stretching based on how much foam I need, but always once the pitcher is warm (happens in the 80-100 degree range) and stop steaming once the pitcher feels hot. Early on, I used a thermometer as a visual clue, but now I rely on feel and sound. This results in milk between 140 & 145.
When I'm training a new employee, we taste the milk. I make three pitchers: 140, 150 & 160. The first is yummy and sweet, the second is still good, but it's starting to go a little flat and the last is completely flat. When compared side by side, you can really taste the difference and it drives home the importance of temperature control. And there's no danger of serving burned milk on "accident."
Nicole Heitzler said:
I think you guys might be overthinking the food safety issue. Heating to 145 is to kill any pathogen that might already be in the food. Milk is pasteurized and served straight out of the jug. In addition, most rules state that you have 2-4 hours once a food is removed from temperature control before it must be thrown out.

True. I may well be over-blowing this. And I understand the concept of time or temperature control for the milk.

This is my logic though:
How often do you sanitize your steaming pitchers? Lets say you (like me) just give them a thorough rinse after every use. There is still the potential for baddies to grow in the wet empty pitcher... albeit in small numbers, over the next few hours. Now you add your wholesome milk to that pitcher and steam to 120... mmmm baddies in warm milk!

Its the same reason that we should all be sanitizing our blenders every 4 hours or so - small amounts of milk residue sitting at room temp. That hadn't even occurred to me until our health inspector pointed it out at her last visit. Now we throw them in with the dishes at shift change.

This is probably not a huge deal, and I'll give you that my solution is not entirely robust. I do like to do what I can to make sure that I'm giving out a tasty AND wholesome beverage. I could be way off base with this though, and certainly appreciate having holes poked in my logic... its a good way to learn.
That makes complete sense. I never even thought about it because we keep our pitchers in the fridge and thus out of the danger zone.
Also, to the original question, I think part of the reason there's variation in temperature and procedure is difference in product, just like with espresso.

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