No-Burn Wands and Steam Tips

by Mole : 14th Mar 2008

updated : 5th April 2008

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Issue: You have a no-burn steam wand (such as on my Andreja Premium) and wish to try other steam tips, but the standard ones do not fit directly.
Solution: [1] Remove the old tip and source an adaptor (such as fitted to the hot water wand of the Andreja Premium already!).
Solution: [2] Swap the long steam wand (tip and all) for the hot water wand and fit a steam tip to the adaptor of the shorter wand.
Solution: [3 - Final] Source an alternative steam arm that will allow standard steam tips (Izzo Alex MKII Wand).

For more information, read on…

History of the Issue

You've bought a fantastic new espresso machine like a QuickMill Andreja Premium. The excellent, easy to clean, scald-free, no-burn steam and water wands are a superb addition. However, you realise after a while that you'd like to try alternative steam tips. That's exactly what I did!

The two-hole tip supplied with the Andreja Premium is great. It is fast, gets a good rolling vortex going, and seems to produce very sweet microfoam. However, I've always found that steaming small quantities of milk can be frustrating. Strong steamers are certainly not as forgiving. Perhaps it is my technique? I don't know - I got pretty good with it, to the point of being able to make some nice wet-paint like microfoam with 4-5oz of milk. However, I always found that the foam didn't last as well and the texture would "drop out" quicker than milk steamed for me using a friend's Izzo Alex with Expobar single-hole steam tip. So, I wanted to give it a try!

Unfortunately, most steam tips do not fit the no-burn steam arm! There are three easy, and low cost, solutions to this…

Solution [1]

From reading various coffee forums and articles, it seemed that the easiest way should be to take off the original two-hole tip and source an adaptor. I didn't spend long looking for one, but as far as I know they are only readily available in America (for example, Chris Coffee stock them). However, if you rarely use the water wand, or simply want to try out a new tip for a few days, there is actually a perfectly suitable adaptor on the hot water wand! Simply take off the water diffuser and black O-ring washer (see picture in Solution [2] below) and then somehow take off and use the adaptor.

Without wanting to sound a chicken, I never got this far. My two-hole tip didn't want to come off easily, and I wasn't about to force it (that might have left me with no steaming ability!). But the option is there if you manage it.

There aren't really any drawbacks to this approach, if you manage to get the original tip (and the adaptor) off easily. There are reports stating that use of alternative tips with an adaptor negate the no-burn aspect of the steam arm (and thus it gets hot). I can't say one way or the other, except that my trial with the water wand (Solution [2] below) does not really seem to agree with these reports. A great solution if you can get the tip off and either source an adaptor or else use the water wand adaptor.

In case you are wondering, the adaptor is the highlighted section of the following picture:


The astute reader may notice that I seem to have added a different tip to the adaptor. I have, but the adaptor is still on the hot water wand…

Solution [2]

Given that I couldn't easily get the original two-hole tip off the steam arm, I thought about another easy solution that would let me try my recently purchased Expobar single-hole steam tip without any more delay (the steam arm of Solution [3] was out of stock so I only received the steam tip). Simple idea - swap the hot water and steam wands, and use the shorter hot water wand as a temporary steam wand. We can see this in the following picture:


How did I do it? There are two ways I could see. There is a joint below the ball-joint where a wrench could be used to separate the arm from the ball-joint (look down a bit for a picture of where this is). I thought about this, but wondered whether I might bend the arms trying to loosen this joint. The easiest way seemed to be to undo the hex nuts holding the ball-joints to the valves. Then, simply swap them over and put them back on again (hex nut, spring and ball-joint with arms all together in one unit). In the next picture we see the two hex nut assemblies that I suggest swapping:


There is a fairly hefty spring (holding a washer) that prevents leaks around the ball-joint. Be careful as the nut ends its travel from the valve - the spring is fairly strong and the hex nut can jolt down when the thread finally separates from the valve (took me by surprise!). You'll need to compress the spring a little to get the thread to engage when you replace them. We see this spring in the following picture:


I used an adjustable wrench to take them off. They don't seem to require much force to remove, nor do they require much force to seal again when you do them up. There is a white insert in the hex nut that acts as a washer to prevent leaks. Proceed with care, as you wouldn't want to damage these inserts. If you find a leak after swapping the arms over, just tweak the hex nut very slightly and try again. I guess PTFE tape could be used on the threads to provide an alternative seal, but my washers still seem to work perfectly.

The whole separated assembly can be seen next. Notice the white washer and the joint I thought of undoing instead of the whole assembly.


Having swapped them over, we want to change the water diffuser for a new steam tip. Take off the water diffuser (including the O-ring which is too large to use with a steam tip, from my experience), which looks like this:


Then, add a new steam tip to the adaptor which is already in place (see Solution [1] above for picture). The Expobar single-hole steam tip works well for me, but needed some sealing to prevent leaks as it does not fit completely onto the adaptor. You could use a small O-ring, but I found a few wraps of PTFE tape to work well and prevent the tip from easily unscrewing. Also, I used some PTFE tape in the groove to make cleaning easier (this is visible in the picture for Solution [1] above).

Are there any drawbacks? Well, yes. The shorter hot water wand is in all truth too short to make a good steam arm. I can steam 4-5oz of milk in a 12oz pitcher with it, but it takes some tilting of the pitcher at the start for the tip to reach the milk. Any larger pitcher or smaller quantities of milk would be hard or impossible. The replacement steam arm, as in Solution [3] below, is the better option for long term use.

Reports of the no-burn arm heating up when using an adaptor and alternative steam tip might be a little exaggerated. I have not found that the shorter hot water wand heats up particularly more using it as a steam arm with alternative tip. However, perhaps some of this is aided by using PTFE tape as a sealant?

Finally, the steam arm with two-hole steam tip does not make a good water wand! It sends a nice water spray almost everywhere. If you want to remove an ounce or two from the boiler at the end of each day, as I do, then I suggest placing the tip on the inside wall of a jug or pitcher and proceed with caution. If you want to use the water wand for more than a couple of ounces, I would try Solution [1] or [3] instead!

Solution [3]

I have bought a new steam arm, originally for an Izzo Alex MK II or Vivi MKII (part number 'FE 787' I believe). It costs about £10 (£9.99 currently at and fits most QuickMill machines (certainly those like my Andreja Premium with non-compression valves). This has allowed me to gain back a full length steam wand without needing to take off the old two-hole tip and source an adaptor. This wand is a little shorter than the old no-burn one, but seems ample long enough for use in domestic sized pitchers.

Are there any drawbacks? Again, yes, but only if you're silly (like me). Going nearly a year with the no-burn wand, using it to rest my finger tip on to steady the pitcher, meant that I got a couple of nasty shocks from Mr. Burn :-( Not bad ones, mind you, but you should be careful until you teach yourself a new technique! Otherwise, I can't find a fault with this mod.

Let us take a look at the wand and installation. Firstly, the new wand's hex nut as it arrived:


We can see the indent where we need to place the white washer from the old assembly. I don't know whether the Izzo machines have these washers, but they certainly connect to the valve in a different manner, so may not need them. Next, we see the parts ready to assemble:


And here they are assembled, white washer installed, ready to attach to the machine:


The machine looks a little different with the new wand, obviously, but it is not too much of a shock. Of course, the biggest difference is that it is obvious the two wands no longer match, one being no-burn and the other, well, let's call it 'burn' :-)


The wand with original tip (Alex/Vivi MKII two-hole tip), as supplied for a tenner, attached to the machine:


And with Expobar (Pulsar/Leva) single-hole tip (currently £6.50 from, which seems a little steep), and a separate steam tube anti-scorch clip (currently £1.49, again from


I highly recommend the single-hole tip, it is much easier to get good microfoam with some consistency using this tip. It can of course be done with the other tips, but with smaller quantities of milk, it is harder to do so consistently. For comparison, a pic of the tip sizes:


From left to right: Andreja Premium (and others) no-burn steam wand with original two-hole tip; Izzo Alex/Vivi MKII two-hole tip; Expobar Pulsar/Leva single-hole tip. I have put some comments on steaming ability using these tips further down.

Final Solution

Well, for me, the ease of creating really tight microfoam, time after time, with small to medium quantities of milk has won it for the single-hole Expobar steam tip. It works alright on the hot water wand, if you just want to try it, but for long term use, and coming in at a total mod price of under £18 (excluding shipping) you really cannot beat the Izzo Alex/Vivi MKII steam wand with Expobar single-hole tip and, for ease of use, additional anti-scorch clip. You get to keep the great (short) hot water wand and diffuser and you don't have to risk in any way the original wand, nor source an alternative adaptor. All in all, a very easy, highly recommended mod for (most) non-compression valves with no-burn wands (like the QuickMill machines use).

Comments on Steaming Ability of the Tips (Using Andreja)

Well, we all know that the original no-burn wand's two-hole steam tip is a beast. It steams very quickly, perhaps too fast for small to medium quantities of milk. Whilst it is possible to get nice texture, I have always found that to get the milk as hot as I like (near the 70C red zone border!) was hard. You could get caught out and coast too far. You could accidently suck a bit of air in at the last second and trying to save it overheats the milk. Or, even if you stop in time, the powerful tip seems to kick the milk a bit to death, with a bit of a dry cap, unless you stop steaming a little earlier, perhaps 60 to 65C.

The Alex/Vivi MKII two-hole tip is, for me, not that good. It is difficult to inject air smoothly and keep it mixing smoothly. To be fair, the end result was always much better than the initial stretching phase would suggest, so the tip can't be all that bad. Probably this is due to the dispersion pattern of the two holes, which is very wide - hard to inject air, but a good rolling mix going (just a bit wild though!). This also makes it messy to vent into the drip tray as the pattern really is that wide. It is not easy to clean with the ridged side. Also, it is no faster than the Expobar single-hole tip, since the two holes are small - very small. Personally, I would have kept the original two-hole tip over this one. I wouldn't have wanted to buy this tip if it didn't come with the wand!

Now, because the Andreja needs quite a high boiler pressure (at least UK models do, I'm not sure of other regions) the single-hole tip is by no means slow. It is slower, perhaps by as much as 50 to 100% over the original tip, but really this is only to a point. The heating element of the Andreja is powerful (1500W in the UK), and can maintain high boiler pressure with ease when using the single-hole tip whereas it would drop considerably with the original two-hole tip. Whilst this is out of the scope of this article, it is this pressure drop that affords the larger holed tips their speed (so long as the heating element remains on throughout steaming in both cases). However, this slight reduction in initial steaming power with the single-hole tip allows a finer control of air injection in the initial stretching phase of the milk foaming whilst maintaining the velocity required to perform the texturing phase. Steaming time is probably 50% longer taking the milk to the same temperature that I would have stopped at with the original tip. The nice thing about the slower single-hole tip is being able to go a little further without ruining the texture of the milk. Because of this, I probably spend about twice as long steaming milk (in the 4-6oz range that I use regularly).

Overall, is the mod vastly better than the original two-hole tip and wand? Probably not. Is it easier to achieve the same level of microfoam that took hours of practise with the two-hole tip? Definitely! Oh, and if you're still not convinced, let's see what the replacement wand and tip can do for your latte art skills ;-)