These barista hacks unlock alternative ways to use a steam wand – from cleaning to baking and even making breakfast

These barista hacks unlock alternative ways to use a steam wand. You can use it for proofing bread, a quick breakfast, and cleaning too

Alternative ways to use a steam wand other than steaming milk using a stainless steel milk pitcher as shown
(Image credit: Meng Wen Guo via Getty Images)

You can use your steam wand to texture milk, but have you ever wondered what else you can use your steam wand for? There are many alternative ways to use a steam wand, from poached eggs to jewelry cleaning. I’m here to tell you all about them. 

If you’ve invested in one of the best espresso machines, you want to maximize your investment. I’ve covered the basics of how to use a steam wand to texture milk, but if you’re intrigued to know what else you can do, you’ve come to the right place. 

I’ve spoken with baristas and coffee experts to find out what else you can do with a steam wand aside from texturing milk. These impressive tricks will wow your friends at brunch and help you keep on top of your chores.

Warming cups and drinks

An espresso machine brewing a shot of coffee into a white mug

(Image credit: Westend61 via GettyImages)

Perhaps the most obvious, but nevertheless essential alternative use for a steam wand is its ability to warm up cups and cold drinks for you. 

Warming drinks is straightforward. Former barista and coffee expert, Kayla Stavridis, explains 'If you insert the wand just below the surface of your liquid and turn it on, you can heat up your drink without steaming or frothing it. This works well for cider, hot chocolate, and wine.'

Similarly, if you need to warm your cup before brewing a coffee, you can quickly use the steam wand to blast your mug with heat. Stick your steam wand close to the base of your coffee cup and run it for a few seconds. You might get some water pooling in the bottom of your cup, tip that out and wipe or dry your mug. Most espresso machines have cup warmers on top, but this is a good hack if you've forgotten to keep yours warm.

I would always recommend brewing coffee into a warm cup because this helps to keep your drink at a stable temperature. To put it simply, if your cold cup cools your coffee quickly, you’ll end up drinking a tepid brew, which isn’t pleasant. If you want to get geeky, your coffee flavors taste best at 195-205 degrees. If they cool too quickly, the sour, bitter taste of your hot coffee will become ten times more prominent.

Melting chocolate, and proofing bread

A bowl of melted chocolate on a wooden table

(Image credit: Lenka Prusova via Getty Images)

Bakers can enjoy no end of delights with a steam wand, from steaming fruit, proofing bread, softening butter, and melting chocolate. Here are just a few of them to get you started. 

The chocolate trick is one of the most popular. We’ve all been there. You’re baking and the recipe calls for melted chocolate. If you didn't read ahead, you might have a bar in the refrigerator, sitting more solid than ever. Kayla recommends 'holding a bowl of chocolate pieces just above a running steam wand to gently melt them without burning. Just remember to keep stirring for an even melt.'

If you don't have a proofing oven, a steam wand can create a warm, moist environment that will puff up your bread in no time. Stavridis says, 'All you need to do is steam a large, slightly open container for a few minutes to warm it up then place your dough inside to rise, with the container covered.'

Cleaning jewellery and kitchen tools

A collection of farmhouse style kitchen tools

(Image credit: Diaz 7cero via Getty Images)

Kayla's favorite use for steam wands is cleaning kitchen tools. 'The high heat from the steam can sanitize kitchen tools like whisks or spoons.' She recommends 'briefly holding them under the steam wand to clean them, which is especially useful in between tasks when you're preparing multiple ingredients.

Whilst I follow the same technique to clean my jewelry, I’d like to issue a word of warning first. Always be careful with precious rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. Different metals respond differently to cleaning approaches, so do your deep cleans carefully and always test on a small patch first. 

Cleaning glasses is the same story as cleaning jewelry, but it’s particularly useful if you’re celebrating or hosting a dinner party. Place your steam wand tip inside the bowl of your glass (this works on all types of classes, water, wine, or champagne). Turn the steamer quickly off and on, then use a clean, microfiber cloth to polish your glass. It’s quick and can clean away stubborn finger marks in seconds. 

Quick breakfasts: instant oat milk or poached eggs

A bowl of oatmeal with blueberries, banana, and walnuts on top

(Image credit: ArxOnt via Getty Images)

If you're often short on time in the mornings, this hack could change your life. Kayla recommends using your steam wand to 'make a quick breakfast. Use your steam wand to heat water directly into a bowl of instant oatmeal. The steam wand can bring water to the perfect temperature for a warm, comforting breakfast in no time.'

Steve Spring, coffee expert, says that a steam wand is great for 'whipping up beautifully poached eggs that could rival any brunch spot.' He says, 'It's as easy as turning on your espresso machine, cracking an egg into a small cup or ramekin, and adding a little vinegar to the water.' Once they're in the steaming pitcher, turn on the wand. The steam gently cooks the egg white, while the yolk stays gloriously runny.

Expert tips

A jug of milk being textured using a steam wand with a cup of coffee on the right hand side

(Image credit: Getty Images)

I asked Kayla for some final barista tips on alternative uses for a steam wand. She says to 'always keep the wand clean and purge it before and after each use to ensure no residue is left inside.' I've dedicated a whole article to cleaning a steam wand, so make sure you're familiar with that.

Always be mindful of how hot steam is. There's a lot of pressure and heat in your steam wand, so be careful of burns and spills. Kayla says to 'prioritize safety and cleanliness and you'll find that this piece of your coffee equipment can become an indispensable ally in both your coffee-making and culinary ventures.'

Laura Honey
eCommerce Editor

Laura is our eCommerce editor. As a fully qualified barista, she's our expert in all things coffee and has tested over thirty of the best coffee makers on the market. She has also interviewed Q-Graders and world-leading experts in the coffee industry, so has an intimate knowledge of all things coffee. Before joining Homes & Gardens, she studied English at Oxford University. Whilst studying, she trained as a master perfumer and worked in the luxury fragrance industry for five years. Her collection of home fragrance is extensive and she's met and interviewed five of the world's finest perfumers (also known as 'noses'). As a result of this expansive fragrance knowledge, she always puts quality and style over quantity and fads. Laura looks for products which have been designed simply and with thoughtful finishes.