How to Steam Milk with a Panarello Nozzle

Having an espresso machine enables you to make steamed milk, which greatly broadens any coffee repertoire. When learning how to steam milk, it is important to know what kind of steam nozzle your machine has, as this will determine the correct steaming technique. Many home espresso machines come with what is called a panarello nozzle. These devices are designed to make it easier to steam milk, thus they require a slightly different technique than a regular steam wand.. This tutorial will show you how to steam milk with a panarello steam nozzle.

What is a Panarello?

Before we dive in, let’s take a minute to talk about what exactly a panarello is. When milk is steamed with a regular steam wand, the steam nozzle is positioned just barely below the surface of the milk. When the positioning is correct, the steam sucks some of the surrounding air into the milk with it. Thus the steam that enters the milk is actually a mix of steam and air. This produces tiny bubbles which is what creates the milk foam; a key element to steamed milk. In order for all of this to happen, the nozzle must be precisely positioned  and the steam must have fairly high pressure.

This presents something of a problem on home espresso machines. First, because many users don’t have the required skills and second, home machines generally aren’t capable of producing enough steam.

Manufactures have worked around these problems by outfitting their machines with panarello steam nozzles. Although there are countless different designs, panarellos operate on the same general principle. They all use some sort of mechanism to automatically mix air into the steam. This way, the user doesn’t have to worry about precise positioning and steam pressure is not such a huge issue.

Do I have a Panarello?

It is possible that your machine has a panarello, even if you have never heard the term. Most home espresso manufacturers don’t use the term ‘panarello’—probably because nobody will know what it is. Rather, most manufacturers come up with their own name for their steam nozzle; such as auto-frother, froth enhancer, jet frothers, ect.

So how do you know if your machine has a panarello or a regular steam wand? A regular steam wand is a simple tube with a cap that has one or more holes in it. A panarello on the other hand, will have some sort of attachment affixed to the steam wand. If your steam wand has any sort of attachment on the end, it is likely a panarello.

Instructions: Steam Milk with a Panarello

Turn Espresso Machine onto Steam Setting1. Turn on the machine, engage the steam setting, and let it heat up

  • The controls vary on different machines, check you owner’s manual for instructions specific to your machine
Fill the Pitcher with Milk

Fill to just below the spout

2. As the machine heats, pour the milk into your steaming pitcher. The pitcher should be filled to just below the spout. Also attach the thermometer to the side of the pitcher. The tip of the thermometer should be well submersed, but not touching the bottom of the pitcher.

Purge the Steam Wand3. Once the machine is fully heated and ready to steam, purge the wand of any water by running some steam into an empty vessel

Insert the Panarello into the Milk4. Position the pitcher so that about 3/4 of the panarello is submerged into the milk, then turn on the steam

5. As the milk steams, find the correct placement for the panarello

Large Milk Bubbles

Large bubbles means you’re too close to the surface

  • This can take a bit of experimentation as the ideal placement will vary from machine to machine. Try different vertical placements; some panarellos work best when fully submerged, while others work better near the surface. Likewise, try different horizontal placements: some panarellos work best if placed near the center of the pitcher, while others work best near the edge.
  • The best placement is the spot that produces a high volume of foam made up of tiny bubbles. If you are getting very large bubbles, the panarello is probably too near the surface. If you are getting little or no foam, the panarello is probably too deep in the milk.
The goal is a high volume of smooth foam

The goal is a high volume of smooth foam

Steam to 150 degrees fahrenheit6. Once you have found the correct placement, hold the panarello in that spot while the milk continues to steam. Once the temperature reaches 150°F/65°C turn off the steam.

  • The ideal temperature for frothed milk is a matter of personal taste; anything between 140°-160° F/60°-70° C will work. However, milk scalds at 160° F/70° C—so if you overheat the milk it is ruined.

Give the espresso machine a second purge7. Give the panarello a second purge to remove any milk from inside of it. Do this by placing an empty vessel under the steam nozzle and turning the machine back on to steam, let the machine run until no more milk or cloudy water comes out.

Disassemble the parnarello to clean

Disassemble the parnarello to clean

8. Thoroughly clean the nozzle. Warm milk is a great host for bacteria, so it is imperative that you get the panarello good and clean. It is highly recommended that you clean it immediately after use as it is very difficult to clean once the milk has dried.

  • If your panarello comes apart, you may need to disassemble it to properly clean it
  • Many panarellos detach easily. If this is the case, you can remove it and throw it into a cup of water to soak while you enjoy your coffee. Then come back and give it a thorough clean later.

Steamed Milk9. That’s it! Your steamed milk can now be used for a latte, cappuccino or other milk based drink.

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