my steam tip journey

Original 4-hole Steam Tip

Toothpicks help indicate the direction of steam flow from the four hole tip.

The four holes in this tip are equally spaced but angle outwards at around 45° from vertical.

When I first got my Bezzera BZ99S espresso machine, it was fitted with a four hole steam tip. I’m not sure if this was an original item or not. It had cutouts on two sides (presumably to allow removal with a spanner), which made cleaning the tip after use somewhat painful.

As there were four holes, the tip was a bit of a steam monster, so the milk would heat very quickly, leaving little time for texturing. Making matters worse, the four holes directed steam outwards at roughly 45° from vertical, which made generating a whirlpool rather challenging!

 

2-hole Steam Tip

Toothpicks help indicate the direction of steam flow from the two hole tip.

The two holes in this tip are angled slightly outwards but only around 30° from vertical.

I replaced the original 4-hole steam tip with a 2 hole tip not long after buying the machine. I’m pretty sure it was this one from Jetblack Espresso, which has 1.2mm holes (a total area of 2.26 mm2).

It was a big improvement over the stock tip. It significantly less total hole area, the steam flowrate was reduced which slowed the heating rate and allowed better control over texturing. However, with the fixed steam wand on the Bezzera, the angle and position of the holes sometimes made it difficult to get a stable whirlpool.

My temporary “solution” to this problem was to block one of the holes with a toothpick. This made it easier to control the whirlpool and also slowed the steam flowrate, resulting in better milk texturing. However, it was somewhat inconvenient and I did once almost swallow half a toothpick – not an ideal scenario!

 

DIY Single Hole Steam Tip

My DIY steam tip only has one hole, in the centre.

My permanent solution to the challenges of the two hole tip, was to replace it with a single hole tip. My Bezzera BZ99s espresso machine has one of the old style fixed wands (which only permit rotation) and requires a steam tip with an M10 x 1.0mm female thread.

As it turned out, options for single hole tips of this type are rather limited. So, I did what any sensible engineer would do – I bought a mini-lathe and some stainless steel round bar (of unknown grade), and made my own. Well OK, I didn’t buy a lathe just to make something I could buy for $10 – but it was the first real project I made with it.

Front/Middle/Rear: Original 4-hole steam tip / commercial 2-hole steam tip / DIY single hole steam tip

Front/Middle/Rear: Original 4-hole steam tip / commercial 2-hole steam tip / DIY single hole steam tip

My DIY steam tip is a simple design, with a single, central hole with a diameter of approximately 1.5mm (1.76 mm2 total hole area). I originally planned for it to have 1mm hole, but snapped the only drill bit of that size that I had!

The new tip restricts steam flow slightly more than the 2-hole tip and makes it much easier to get a good rolling whirlpool. Overall, I think the quality of my milk is consistently better with this tip. The tip has a raw machined finish, which has not been polished – this surface actually seems to be easier to clean than the chromed finish on the two hole tip.

The image to the right shows all three tips together. I plan to experiment with different tip designs in future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *