Why A Loud Steam Wand Could Be A Bad Sign At A Coffee Shop

Coffee shops are a favorite hangout for so many of us. It's somewhere to meet friends, curl up in a corner to study or work, and of course, enjoy a first-class cup of coffee. Additionally, the fact that almost all cafes provide access to the internet has only increased their popularity. Coffee houses have long been a desirable location for social interaction, dating all the way back to 1475 in a shop known as Constantinople (per Coffee Affection). While drinking coffee at home is fine, the environment of a cafe is often more pleasant and conducive to getting things done, or simply passing the time. And let's face it, we don't all have the most advanced equipment to make the specialty drinks we've come to love.

While the comforting sounds of conversations and the aroma of fresh coffee and fresh-baked pastries are part of the experience, a jarring noise coming from the coffee equipment can not only ruin the ambiance but signal something bad about the coffee you are about to drink. What is that sound and more importantly, what does it mean for the consumer?

The sound is the result of several factors

A loud screeching sound at your favorite coffee haunt might not be coming from your friend because you are late, but instead, the noise of the steaming wand used to make foamed coffee drinks. The experts at Full Coffee Roast refer to it as a screaming steam wand. It occurs when the wand fails to take in a sufficient amount of air into the milk. If milk is not aerated enough, not only will you hear this sound, but you'll have less foam, reports Clive Coffee

Regardless of the barista or the quality of the coffee beans, if your specialty drink uses milk, the shrill sound signals what will be an inferior-tasting drink, explains Full Coffee Roast. Specifically, what causes the steam wand to emit this sound is the result of several factors, including it being placed too deeply in the milk, the wand not being fully opened, or the use of already steamed milk. "Leaving it unaerated can scald the milk, which doesn't make for a good latte," explains Dylan Clair, a self-proclaimed barista aficionado via Insider. Clair adds that the "right" noise a wand should make is the sound of tearing paper, followed by a gentler bubbling one when the steaming is finished.

The conversations and loud music are enough to listen to at a cafe — avoid the howling of a steam wand, especially if you want a perfect coffee drink.