Before I ever touched an espresso machine, I had dreams of becoming a home barista. Pulling shots bold with crema, pouring lattes topped with art, and serving up drinks for anyone who walked through my door. Most of those dreams remained just that - cerebral fantasies - for a long time, mostly because of a lack of funds.
Home espresso setups have a steep financial barrier for entry, costing in the hundreds to thousands, compared to a simple pour over setup. Although I couldn’t afford an automatic machine, manual machines like the ROK and the Flair starting coming across my radar at a price point I could begin to consider. For a couple hundred dollars I started pulling manual shots by hand, drinking tiny shots and tall americanos to my heart’s content.
Yet still something was still missing. I couldn’t quite bear the badge of “home barista”. There’s just something about the hissing of stretching milk and the pouring of silky foam that makes the barista moniker.
To pair with my manual espresso maker, I needed a manual milk frother. Not one of those “automatic frothers” you’d see at a hardware store, neither one of those battery powered whisks. I wanted real steaming power, but couldn’t afford to buy an espresso machine to get it.
It just makes sense
I remember the first time I saw a Bellman Stovetop Steamer. It was on a shelf behind a café bar amongst all sorts of vintage coffee brewing equipment. As soon as I laid eyes on it my inner barista screamed “Of course!” It just makes sense. Put some water in a steel canister, heat it up on a stovetop, and add a steam wand - voila.
That seemed too simple, though. “Surely it’s too good to be true”, I thought. Until I got my hands on one.
The Bellman Stovetop Steamer is built like a tank. Rightfully so, it has to be. Inside the stainless steel structure boils a turbulent tirade of water just waiting to burst out in all directions. The Bellman does an incredible job of harnessing that energy and turning it into powerful steam.
Equipped with a double nozzle steam wand, this stovetop steamer feels reminiscent of most semi-automatic machines I’ve worked with, producing just as much (if not more) steam power. From cappuccino to cortado, this steamer is more than capable of producing whatever kind of foam you desire. My go-to drink is a flat white, and I was able to steam silky smooth microfoam on my very first attempt.
It’s not more complicated to operate than adding water, adding heat, and knowing it’s ready to go when steam starts to leak from the valve. Release some pressure by turning the knob, grab pour pitcher, and start steamin’ baby.
The Bellman is equipped with a pressure release valve to keep you safe while you heat it on the heat source of your choice. It’s compatible with gas, electric, ceramic, campfire, and induction elements (must be suitable for 304 grade stainless). Virtually no matter where you are or what heat source you have, you can have machine quality steam for café quality drinks.
I have painfully high expectations, and when it comes to my coffee brewing equipment I simply won’t settle. This stovetop steamer honestly exceeded every expectation I had of it, and I’m still shocked by the punch that it packs. The barrier to becoming a home barista has never been more slim in my opinion, and pairing this little gadget with a manual espresso maker will get you where you want to go quickly and affordably.
How are you steaming milk at home? Let me know in the comments!