Steamed Sugar Science?

Hey! Some questions have come up with my baristas about steaming milk with syrups added to the pitcher prior to steaming vs adding syrups after steaming the milk. Anyone have information or links to someone’s work on how steaming affects the natural sugars in milk, and what it would do to syrups? I’m eager to learn anything at all about it, from general info to scientific papers! Thanks everyone!

I would avoid steaming milk with your syrups for a few reasons. I have no hard evidence but just things I have experienced.

  1. I don’t think there is any benefit to “increase sweetness” in this way. If the idea is to carmalsise the sugars, (something I’ve heard in this debate before) the process of carmalision actually decreases sweetness.

  2. Some syrups just do not steam well with milk at all and make much larger air bubbles creating foam that is not as sweet or stable.

  3. For sanitation reasons alone, I say avoid steaming anything with your milk. I’ve seen steam wands in shops from baristas who lack the training, knowledge or even care to take apart the steam wand and clean out the gunk that most definitely and inevitable will get trapped in there and stick to the inside lining of the steam wand. Syrups are sticky and sticky things stick and trap icky things in your steam wands. I have cleaned out nasty black gunk and debris in shops where baristas have adopted this habbit.

I’m not trying to say never steam with syrups but if I would strongly advise against it if you can help it. I know places who use a chai concentrate that need to steam with it otherwise your temperature of milk is too cool and you can’t really steam the milk hotter to compensate otherwise your scalding your milk, so I guess chai could be an exception…

Hope this helps.

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