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, regularly running in the hundreds to thousands of dollars. Although I couldn’t afford an automatic machine, manual machines like the ROK and the Flair started to come 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 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, and certainly not one of those battery powered whisks. I wanted real steaming power, but couldn’t afford to buy an espresso machine to get it.
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, add a steam wand and 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, and rightly so—it has to be. Inside the stainless steel structure boils a turbulent tirade of water just waiting to burst out in all directions. 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.
Operating Bellman is as simple as 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 your pitcher, and start steamin’ baby.
Equipped with a pressure release valve to keep you safe while you bring it up to temp on the heat source of your choice, the Bellman Stovetop Steamer is compatible with gas, electric or ceramic elements (induction cooktops must be must be compatible with non-magnetic 304 grade stainless steel, or require an induction converter/adaptor plate), or even campfire. Wherever you are, Bellman provides espresso 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 good quality manual espresso maker will get you where you want to go quickly and affordably.