Is there a difference in the "nature" of the steam being produced by the steamers in the espresso machines?

I have a decent espresso machine, but apparently even a professional barista who I know can't make the foam needed for cappuccino art - so I was wondering if professional espresso machines produce a steam that is different in nature compared to home ones (at least, midrange ones).

  • Is your question regarding the ability to make the froth that allows foam art? Commented Jan 1, 2013 at 17:33
  • yes! (filler filler)
    – Marcus
    Commented Jan 1, 2013 at 19:37

3 Answers 3


There are two major differences between frothing with a home machine versus a professional machine.

1- A professional machine will have hotter and more forceful steam.
2- A home machine will often have a "froth assistor" on the wand.

The composition of the steam, though, should be the same and you should be able to create a decent approximation of the correct kind of foam for latte art with a mid-range home machine.

There's a very nice tutorial about halfway down this page on CoffeeGeek.

  • I think it will also have more consistent steam flow (which is a consequence of of the hotter temperature of the boiler); in my machine, the steam flow is not continuous, which I think contributes to creating larger bubbles in the milk.
    – Marcus
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 8:26

I'd say from my experience that most espresso machines cant really do anything good in term of milk froth. I mean, the quality is not bad, but not good either. I personally own the Aeroccino milk froth plus model and it does wonder for me.

If you want to check out for other models, there is a great list right there about the best milk frother on the market.If you plan on making latte art and stuff like that, I strongly recommend a good milk frother. Else, it is not mandatory.


commercial milk frothers on the built in barista machines of varying types have a far more powerful steam nozzle and its also way hotter. The home milk frothers, while ok, are far far less efficient at frothing up milk. Still can be worth getting though as we can't always get to the coffee shop!

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