December 9, 2019 How To Froth Milk
If you want drinking coffee to be an experience rather than just something that you drink to wake you up in the morning then learning how to froth milk will enhance your enjoyment and take you to another level in your coffee journey.
The actual process of heating your milk to the correct temperature and producing the correct amount of creamy, foamy froth is very important but before you can do any of that you need to, first of all, have the correct equipment.
What do you need to froth milk properly?
Don’t just grab any old jug from the cupboard because it’s most likely that is not fit for purpose.
Get yourself a nice stainless steel milk frothing jug that has been made to heat milk and pour it without dripping and so that you can create some latte art if desired.
First and foremost you do not need to be spending anything more than around £12 maximum for a milk frothing jug. Essentially there are only 3 different types that you need to consider.
The first is your bog-standard stainless steel jug. It’s a jug, Its stainless steel and its got a non-drip spout. This will set you back around a fiver and it will do the job perfectly well. There are hundreds of different types and lots of them are overpriced. We have looked at most of them and this milk frothing jug does exactly what it is supposed to at a very affordable and reasonable price.
Once you have created a lovely froth on your milk it can need some assistance to get it out of the jug and into your glass so for a few pounds more you can add a stainless steel scoop which doubles up as a latte art pen so the second jug to consider is this milk frothing jug with latte art pen. Once you have mastered the art of making a great espresso you can turn it into a cappuccino or latte and top it off with a picture of a flower with this additional accessory.
Finally, and the one that we would recommend from the outset is to get a jug that has a built-in thermometer on the side of the jug. If you are going to create the perfect cappuccino or latte then you need to heat the milk to 65 degrees which is pretty hot. With the other two jugs you will need to do that by feel which is ok but most of the time you will not heat the milk up hot enough because 65 degrees is hotter than is comfortable to the hand so you will either stop too soon and the milk will not be hot enough or you will go on too long and risk the milk burning which will totally ruin your coffee.
Considering that any jug you buy will last you for a good few years or more than buying one with a built-in thermometer is the most sensible way to go and this milk frothing jug with integrated thermometer will do the job and represents excellent value for money.
You can buy a thermometer separately for a few pounds but you have to faff about and hold the thermometer in the milk whilst you are heating it which is cumbersome and not worth it. We switched to using a jug with integrated thermometer years ago.
Once you have chosen the right milk frothing jug the most important part comes next.
What is the best milk to froth with?
There are so many different types of milk to choose from and some of them are not even milk! Well, it depends on your view. Traditionally milk is dairy and of course comes from cows.
Nowadays you can have plant-based milk such as almond, rice, soy, coconut and more. If you are lactose intolerant then you can use say almond milk for a cappuccino or latte and it will froth reasonably well but it won’t taste as good as cow’s milk.
Stick to cow’s milk for milk-based espresso drinks for the best flavour to compliment the coffee.
You then have 3 choices. Full fat milk, semi-skimmed and skimmed. The bottom line is that semi-skimmed and skimmed milk are just watered-down versions of full-fat milk.
If you want to actually taste and enjoy your coffee then we would recommend against using skimmed milk as all of the flavour is removed and semi-skimmed milk isn’t that much better.
Coffee shops use full-fat milk for their milk-based coffee drinks because it compliments espresso perfectly and that is the type of milk that we would recommend every time.
If you are concerned about your amount of fat intake then bear in mind that you will only be adding around 60ml of milk to a cappuccino and if you drink 2 of those a day that should fit into the category of “it’s ok in moderation”.
What are the different methods to froth milk?
There are 3 realistic ways that you can froth up your milk ready to be added to a double espresso to create a beverage to titillate your senses and deliver a wonderful sensory experience to your day.
The first is a manual frother where you basically move a plunger up and down inside a cylindrical device that looks like a cafetiere or french press. We do not recommend this method because it doesn’t produce the best results but most importantly you have to heat the milk up first in a pan or the microwave and you’ll probably get the temperature all wrong and it’s just too much hassle all round.
The second option is more viable and can deliver some good results if you choose the right product. An electric milk frother is the second best option to get your cappuccino or latte with the minimum of fuss.
There are lots of different choices when it comes to an electric milk frother with the most important consideration being the volume of milk that they will hold, heat and froth and most importantly the temperature that they will heat the milk up to.
You can’t select the temperature yourself so make sure you buy one that gets that right or you will be wasting your money.
We have reviewed lots of electric milk frothers and there are a couple that deliver the goods.
At the budget end of the market, the Homegeek milk frother will heat your milk up to 65 degrees and has a good non-drip spout that rotates 360 degrees on its base for easy use.
For a branded option you can consider the Dualit milk frother that holds a larger volume of milk and based on Dualits reputation will give you a number of years of frothing joy.
But when you go to any coffee shop you will see them heating the milk themselves in a milk pitcher just before adding it to the coffee to create your drink of choice and they do this for a reason. It’s the only way to get it just right.
How to froth milk with a steam wand
Steam wands come attached to coffee machines so if you don’t already have one of those then you can have a look at the best espresso machines for your money.
If you already have an espresso machine with a steam wand then it is as much about eliminating the most common mistakes as it is about doing the right things.
Before you even put the steam wand into the milk make sure it is “purged”. If you put the wand into the milk before the temperature is hot enough then it will add water into the milk before steam comes out.
Milk is mostly water anyway so you want to avoid adding any unnecessary additional water. Make sure there is a good burst of steam coming out, quickly shut it off, put it in the milk and turn it on again within a few seconds and you are ready to go.
Don’t put the tip of the steam wand too low towards the bottom of the jug. You will know if it is too low because it will make a screeching noise that will be so annoying that you will want it to stop so move the jug down a bit until you hear a nice smooth whirling noise.
By doing this you will be adding air into the milk and creating the nice creamy, latex looking texture that is perfect for adding to espresso.
You can specifically control the amount of froth that you get by keeping the tip of the steam wand just below the surface of the milk and by bringing it just above the surface will create lots of air being added to the milk which creates the froth. This does take a little bit of practice so be prepared to splash yourself with some flying milk when you pull the wand too far above the surface.
Keep the wand steady in the jug. It is a common mistake to “swirl” the jug around but it’s just not necessary. Keep it in the middle of the jug and just below the surface for the perfect texture.
The last and very important part is to keep an eye on the temperature. If you have a temperature gauge built into the jug then its easy. 65 degrees is perfect but don’t go above 70 because at 75 degrees the milk will start to burn and your drink will be ruined.
If you follow these guidelines with a bit of personal tweaking you will have the most wonderful frothy, creamy, smooth, perfectly heated steamed milk ready to be added straight into a double espresso.