How Do I Froth Milk

(The Secret Answer to the Desperate Question)

How Do I Froth Milk
When asking the dreaded "How DO I Froth Milk," question, the DO emphasized, with maybe even a touch of boldness, something more like: "How DO I froth milk?!" there's usually some pretty deep frustration, maybe even some latent anger, possibly some lingering resentment at the steam wand, but more often than not: desperation.  You've got your espresso machine, you've got your fancy new-fangled steam wand, you've got milk, a pitcher, and you need a cappuccino.  Now.  But chances are you feel like you're ruining espresso with a watery substance that comes nowhere near resembling that thick, delicious, enticing froth of the coffee shop just down the street that you're thinking of ditching your espresso machine altogether for.  Don't do it!   We're here to help you achieve homemade milk froth that's delectable and even better than the coffee shop just down the street. 

Frothing Milk Tips

First Things First: The Best Milk to Froth With

You can basically attempt to froth any type of milk, including non-dairy milks like soy milk, almond milk, etc.  (Rice milk is known to have poor frothing qualities.)  However, you will generally achieve the best, and most consistent, results with dairy milk.  That said, you have to choose the fat content of your milk.  The best frothing results typically come from a lower fat content because it doesn't burn as easily, but most prefer a higher fat content for the flavor of their froth.  For those reasons, many people opt for 2%, which gives some of the richness that a whole milk would lend but with the ease of frothing that fat free has.  If you prefer a super rich froth and feel you can master frothing without burning, then by all means, try it!  And for those calorie counters, you'll be glad to know that your skim milk is the easiest to froth. If you still aren't having luck after implementing these tips, try switching the brand of milk you use.

Cold Milk for Milk Frothing: Pump up the Volume!

Ideally, you should use ice cold milk when frothing milk.  There are a couple reasons for this, the simplest one related to cooking the milk.  The cooler the milk is in the beginning, the less likely you are to overheat it and potentially cook and/or burn it, leaving you with a terrible tasting froth..  When milk reaches approximately 150 degrees Fahrenheit, it will essentially begin to cook and can start to curdle, at which point you'll be left with separate liquids and solids.  (Not your ideal froth.)  The second reason is connected, but has to do with achieving a better foam.  Since you have a longer time to froth with cold milk before it cooks, you can spend more time getting air into the milk, which means a thicker, more voluminous froth.  Remember: temperature is the biggest factor that contributes to an unsatisfactory froth.  So,we reccomend you stick with cool milk.

How Do I Froth Milk: The Answer Itself

Okay, basics aside, let's get down to the frothing.  While there are multiple methods of frothing out there: battery powered frothers, immersion blenders, French press methods, etc., we're going to focus on the most common: steam wands. You will want to pour your cold milk into a cold pitcher (preferably stainless steel, it will dissipate the heat the most efficiently and give you even more time).  The recommendation is to fill your pitcher one-third full since you can expect a good froth to allow for a volume double or triple what you started with in milk.  You'll also want a high quality thermometer to ensure that you reach but don't exceed the proper temperature during frothing.  To begin frothing, run the steam wand momentarily into an empty cup to get out any lingering water droplets that have no place in your froth.  Once finished, submerge the steam wand to the very bottom of the pitcher, and turn on.  This will prevent splashing, but you will immediately want to bring it back to the top where it can suck in air in order to make a froth.  Here's where it gets a little complicated if you don't like a mess.  You need the wand close enough to the surface to reach air but not so far that you spray your milk and foam everywhere.  And, if you submerge it too far, you will not have the air necessary for achieving a volume-filled froth.

Milk Frothing: The Stretch

Once your milk level starts to rise, you have officially hit the stage known as "the stretch," and you will continually need to adjust the level where your steam wand is in order to find that magic spot with enough air.  You will not need to move the pitcher or swirl it around the steam wand.  It's tempting, but unncessary. Continue frothing until you reach a temperature between 140 and 160 degrees.  Ideally your frothed milk will be around 150 to 155 degrees Fahrenheit, but you may need to stop frothing before then, as the thermometer may be slightly behind.  Milk should also have doubled or tripled in volume and should be extremely thick at this point.  If you notice large bubbles, go ahead and knock the pitcher on the counter to break them up.  Swirl it around to mix froth/milk as much or as little as you like, and then pour into your espresso.

Answer Solved

If you've asked anyone, How DO I Froth Milk, we hope this sufficiently answered your question.  If not, send us your lingering questions, we'd be more than happy to delve deeper and do our best to help out.  Tweet us at CoffeeHD  or ask us on Facebook.