The coffee world was recently gathered in Seoul, South Korea at the CafeShow coffee expo to watch the 2017 World Barista Championships (WBC).

ONA Coffee’s Hugh Kelly, Australian Barista Champion 2016/17 and national representative at the WBC, placed 5th in the championships out of more than 60 competitors. In his performance, Hugh focused on innovation and new approaches to coffee that he has discovered through research and development. However, there was something on stage that caught the eyes of the spectators and judges alike: a never-before-seen device for texturing milk, without steam.

For his milk-based course, Hugh used a new kind of machine (pictured), which he introduced as the “milk cloud”. He later explained that this name was just a fill-in, until a name is decided upon. 

So, how does it work? Rather than using the introduction of steam to heat and texture milk, it instead spins the milk at a high speed while heating it through an independent heat source. The result, as Hugh said, is “…creamy, rich and delicious.”

Why no steam? In Hugh’s performance he explained to the judges that over time, traditional milk wands will introduce water into the milk, which dilutes the flavour. By heating the milk without the introduction of this water, the richness and creamy flavour of the milk can be maintained. 

The machine is the result of a collaboration between ONA Coffee and Breville. The idea for the machine came from ONA Coffee’s Angus Mackie, who saw issues with the traditional ways in which baristas heat and texture milk.

“My initial thoughts were to use a machine like this in [barista] competitions,” said Angus.“I thought that if we could find a new way to heat milk while maintaining its natural flavour, it would make milk-based courses shine more.”

Angus spent several years researching different methods of heating and texturing milk, creating foam and the chemical composition of milk.

“The aim was to figure out a way to create a stable foam and a great texture, without having to introduce water into the milk through steam and dilute the flavour.”

This is the first time the milk machine has been publicly displayed, having only been used by the ONA Coffee and Breville teams in Australia until the competition in Seoul.

What does this machine mean for the future? Angus hopes that it will pave the way for more dedication to creating higher quality milk for coffee, as well as create more opportunities to focus on espresso.

“The way that machines are currently built, a lot of power and space is taken up by the boilers that are used for steam,” he said.

“If steamless technology is implemented on a commercial and domestic level,  it enables machine manufacturers to dedicate more time to advancing technology and creating even better espresso.”

The machine is currently in development, with commercial models expected to be launched later in 2017.

Want to learn more? Contact social@onacoffee.com.au for more details.