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Coffee TalkApril 25, 2006

All right. I have a major confession to make, and it's one that Lala could scarcely credit when I told her recently. It is this: When we were in Seattle, I had my first latte.

Yes, it's true. I'd never had a latte before. I'm good with all the blended coffee drinks, lovin' my mochas and cappuccinos, and I also heart good old strong coffee, well roasted and well brewed. I'd only never had a latte because I thought it would be boring. Milk and coffee. Whatever.


Had my first latte at Vivace in Seattle. Way to start an addiction, man. Damn.

So this is  what's freaking me out: I have a Bialetti. You know, the little Italian stove-top espresso machine, which is nothing more than a tiny strong percolator. See it here:

I love this. It was a wedding gift, and boy howdy, do I love it. (I also have a small one that I got at a hardware store in Venice years ago.)

Okay. So a coworker of mine has this one, link here:


This one you add milk to, dude. You pour milk in the top part, water in the bottom, and end up with latte in your cup. It doesn't look any differently constructed than my Bialetti, just different lines.

The question is: What's to stop me from adding milk to the top part of mine while heating and doing the same? Any ideas? I don't want to burn it up, and I know that can be done (I read the Donna Leon mysteries, after all). I don't see why it WOULDN'T work, but tell me what you think, okay?

I loves me a latte.


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i want that bialetti cappucino maker just for the little man.

I don't know but you are making me want to have a soy white mocha right now. I prefer mmy mochas to lattes.

man, i have no idea if that will work, but let me know. I have a stovetop maker like that too... I haven't had too many lattes though, but i'd like to try one

I too love my Bialetti, my sardinian relatives gave it to us for Christmas. I think you would be fine putting the milk in it. In fact, I'll be trying it out this weekend!!

I just realized the difference. The latte specific version has a larger upper reservoir to hold the 1 to 1 ratio of milk to coffee, while the coffee only has enough space to hold the coffe plus a little room for milk. I think if you put less water in you should be able to do it.

Right on Rachael! I was just going to tell you what you already said in your comment. And by the way, the Bialetti makes the very best lattes EVER!

Love the stove-top latte makers! I used one like your little one for years and then read up on aluminum and it's link to Alzheimer's...eek! (http://www.laleva.cc/environment/aluminium_alzheimer2.html.) If you can find one that's stainless inside, go that way, and get a big one so that you can add milk up top and still make a decent size latte. Alternatively, buy one of those stove-top milk steamers...heh. You're in deep now, you may as well go all the way. So to speak.

Yes. Latte, a deceptively simple drink. I always gasp in horror at my local cafe when they ask, "Do you want some flavoring in that?" Why o why would I ruin those perfectly good shots you are making with some syrup? Fools.

hey look, I'm posting a comment. when I used to make (damn good) lattes, we were always careful to steam the milk so that it didn't burn - did this separately from the cappucino part. we used to use little metal jugs to steam the milk in, and the way you measured whether the milk was getting too hot was by keeping your hand on the bottom of the jug and gauging the temperature that way. so I don't know if that helps so much. yeah. this comment, not so helpful.

Man, way to start on a high note. I'm sorry to tell you, after Vivace, every latte will probably be downhill. Still good, but not AS good. Glad you got on the bandwagon in Seattle -- the only place more suited might be Italy.

Vivace is one of my two favorite coffee places in town. You definitely went to the right place there.

Your idea sounded like it just might work, so I tried it just now. Gotta say, it's not a bad drink, but it's not a latte. Heating the milk by steaming it gives it a little bit of body and a little bit of foam that's missing when the milk's simply heated in the top of the stovetop machine. Steaming it also releases some of the flavor and aroma characteristics of the milk, which is why a good latte tastes sweet without having any sugar added.

One thing I like to do with these stovetop machines: fill the basket with the appropriate amount of coffee, tamp it down ever so slightly, and put a thin layer of sugar (the amber "raw" stuff if you can) on top. The coffee-steam will dissolve the sugar as it passes through, giving a wonderful strong, sweet brew.

You can make a half-assed latte by just microwaving the milk separately and adding it in (you're supposed to add milk to espresso, not the other way around).

You really can't beat a steamer, though, for really good milk. If you're worried about burning it use a thermometer, the milk shouldn't pass 160F or it'll stink and be burned.

You can get a pretty good, not too expensive (like $250? I don't remember it's been a few years since I worked there!)expresso machine that steams from Starbucks. That way you can make capuccinos and steamed milk/steamed hot chocolate, too.

MMMM... I SO heart Vivace. They make those little rosette thingies on the top of the lattes, huh? I also heart Seattle...used to go there all the time...haven't been there in a year and a half. Did you make it over to Twice Sold Tales (used bkstore a block or so away)? Did you see the 8 dozen kitties they usually have? Ok, now you've done it. I gotta go plan a trip to Seattle now, hrm...

Now I'm missing the little espresso maker *I* burned up. SO sad.

That thing is cool. I want one.

Remember when I was One Row and Another Latte? Now you know why...

...think I'm gonna head up to the local coffee shop and have a rare lunch-time latte because of you!

if you used a coffee with some chicory would it be more like a cafe au lait? If my spelling is off put it to not having had enough coffee yet today (not because I just plain can't spell) Anyway that would also be yummy.

Rho the person with a coffee addiction who doesn't like Starbucks coffee :D -

TMK *warned* you about Vivace!

I'm not a fan of coffee (except Starbucks Italian roast ice cream), but we make hot chocolate by heating milk in the micro and then frothing it in a $5 frother we got at TJ Maxx (or you can heat it in a mason jar in the micro and then cap and shake it til it's nice and frothy). We also use this method to heat the milk for Chai tea. My brother has an espresso pot similar to yours that has lived in his backpack for years. I don't think he travels anywhere without it and it's great on a campfire, camp stove, hot plate, etc.

I have wondered the same thing. Why can't I add milk to my stove top Bialetti. It can't break it, but just don't put too much water in the bottom.

When I was married, we had a Starbucks Barista espresso machine. I love my little Bialetti so much, I let him keep the big shiny red machine, and happily went off with my very low-tech espresso maker, which is used every single morning to make myself a big latte to greet the day.

Oh, one more thing. If you take that little machine on your music festival trips, or camping, you will be the most popular person in the campground. I guarantee it.

Glad to hear the Bialetti was a hit, but milk in coffee? Eeew.

I didn't know there was a stovetop espresso where you can add milk for lattes! Stop the madness, I will have to now tell DH and we will have to now go and buy it. Jamie Oliver mentioned in one of his shows heating up milk and putting it in a clean tiny milk container-covering-and then shaking to achieve frothiness. It works but is tedious.

Oooh, I've been looking at that Bialetti pot - hmmm, maybe that's my Mother's Day gift request....

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