What is Milk Frothing? Great question! If you’ve ever just dumped milk into you coffee thinking it would magically turn it into a latte or cappuccino, you’ve found out (the hard way) that it doesn’t quite work that way, right? It just doesn’t… do anything.
I’m often hypnotized by the gorgeous milky foam that tops my favorite latte. The baristas always pour it with such flair, too, right? They’re just moving around in that beautiful caffeinated dance, off-hand tilting the metal jug, hand swiveling to make that tell-tale leaf pattern to top off the creation.
It seems like this inside secret, doesn’t it? The fact of the matter though is this: it isn’t. You can froth your own milk like a pro right from the comfort of your own kitchen and save that fiver. Latte art, obviously, takes some daily practice and patience, but making a nicely frothed latte or cappuccino at home really isn’t.
Great question! If you’ve ever just dumped milk into you coffee thinking it would magically turn it into a latte or cappuccino, you’ve found out (the hard way) that it doesn’t quite work that way, right? It just doesn’t… do anything.
When you froth milk, you’re introducing air to it, and really, that’s all it is. This aeration introduces super small, super fine bubbles into the milk and gives it that creamy quality that’s so prized in lattes and cappuccinos. In fact, an indicator of really well steamed and frothed milk is latte art. You simply cannot make latte art without perfectly frothed milk.
Just to quickly give some background for coffee lovers who may be dabbling and debating whether it’s possible to make your favorite caffeinated beverage at home, cappuccinos and lattes use the same three components, but in different quantities.
A latte contains either 1 or 2 shots of espresso, 5-6 oz of steamed milk, and a thin layer of frothed milk. A cappuccino, on the other hand, is equal parts coffee, milk, and froth. It’s a 2 oz. shot of espresso, 2 oz. of steamed milk, and approximately 2 oz. of frothed milk topping it off.
There are a ton of options for frothing milk and, honestly, a lot of them come down to your budget, level of patience, and interest in perfecting the hipster art of latte art.
Things to think about...
When it comes to dollar signs, handheld and manual milk frothers will impact your budget the least. You can get a handheld model for less than two fancy Starbucks drinks (grande size, not even venti!). The caveat with handhelds and manual milk frothers is that you’ll have to warm the milk in the microwave or over the stove because they have one job and one job only: froth. They don’t heat.
If you want to “splurge,” and I use that term a little bit lightly, you can get an automatic model that takes care of your milk from start to finish— they heat it up, froth it, and… well, they don’t pour it, but they have heat-resistant handles so they’re easy for you to pour into your coffee. Many of them are fairly affordable, too, but again, it depends on your wants and needs.
Just about every frother can do its job either hot or cold, but some are uniquely made for one option or the other, so analyze your coffee habits, summer, winter, and everything in between while making this decision.
There’s one other thing you should consider…
Using cow’s milk with any frother on this list will be like baking a premade apple pie—a total cakewalk. Keep in mind, though, that soy, almond, and other varieties of milk have different fat content and consistency and, unfortunately, often require more work. It’s not that you can’t use these machines, you totally can. Many of them are even made to also work with soy milk and its other unique brethren, but not always. It’s just something to keep in mind while choosing.
Without further ado, let’s get this milk frothing party started and look at this countdown of ten easily-snaggable options, starting from investment level practically zero to I’m in this to WIN.
When it comes to the most economical option, handheld milk frothers will go easiest on your wallet. They look similar to whisks, and they’re very easy (and even sort of fun!) to use. However, you shouldn’t expect them to produce the same quality of frothed milk that a larger, automatic frother can whip up. Here are the handheld milk frothers we were most impressed with.
When it comes to popularity, you’re really going to have a hard time beating out the PowerLix Milk Frother. This handheld frother is stainless steel, runs at 19000 rpm (that’s good), and can froth your milk in 15-20 seconds. It’s battery-operated (batteries not included) and is portable, making it great for the office and traveling. It also comes with a 90-day guarantee.
If you’re like me and want a sort of all-in-one deal, it also comes in a package set that includes the stainless steel pitcher, the frother, and three latte art pictures. The pitcher is safe to use over the stove, so you can put the milk in, heat it up, and froth it in the same cup.
The Zulay Milk Frother doesn’t have the cult following that the PowerLix does (except among the Keto crowd), but it offers the same set of capabilities, and tops it off with a little extra something.
It froths in the same amount of time as the PowerLix (15-20 seconds), comes with a handy stand, is made of stainless steel, and comes with a lifetime guarantee. It comes in two models, the Long Lasting Motor or the Ultra High-Powered Motor, both offered at marginal difference in price, and both are capable to frothing milk of all kinds, from cow milk to cashew milk to almond milk and beyond.
The Bean Envy Milk Frother is in the same super-affordable rate as the Zulay and PowerLix, but on top of offering stainless steel construction, an Unconditional Satisfaction Guarantee and Lifetime Warranty, a 19000 rpm motor that froths in 15 seconds, and a seductive logo on the handle, it also comes in three color options!
Although the words “manual” and handheld” are often used interchangeably, a manual milk frother is not the same type of device as the “handheld” milk frothers we reviewed in the previous section. A manual frother looks kind of like a french press. You pour your milk in it, heat it up in a microwave, then give it a several pumps (anywhere from 10 to 100!). Manual milk frothers are a great option for home baristas and they’re around the same price point as the handheld models. Frothing milk manually takes a bit longer than using a battery-operated handheld frother, but it can certainly be rewarding.
It looks like a french press, right? The cool thing about this guy, is that you can put the glass carafe into the microwave to heat up your milk so you don’t have to fumble between a bunch of cups. It holds 16 oz. and beware to not fill over the MAX line. Pump the milk for 20 seconds, throw it in the microwave for 30 seconds, then put it in your coffee. Bada-bing-bada-boom, you didn’t even have to change out of the slippers you ordered that look exactly like your dog!
Ninja’s a big name in the coffee world and this french-press-milk-frother is a solid example as to why. The glass carafe is microwavable and dishwasher safe, making it ideal for those interested in a quality latte without extra cleanup.
The only pause here is the Limited 1-year Warranty—it’s at their discretion and you have to pay a $19.95 shipping fee, so we hope they’ll improve that policy soon.
If glass isn’t really your thing and you’d prefer a stainless steel model, the JoyFork Manual Milk Frother may be a good fit for you. It works essentially the same ways except, of course, you can’t put it in the microwave. You can heat the up-to-14 oz. of milk over the stovetop for warm beverages and then you’re all set. The JoyFork even comes with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty, which always gives us piece of mind.
Alright, sit back, relax, and let me take you on a luxurious ride through the the thrilling world of automatic milk frothers that do everything for you. We’re going to start from most affordable up to the top of the line.
I’m going to be real—between the super affordable price, the number of froth options, and streamlined curvy design of the VAVA Milk Frother, we’re pretty sold on this being the best option.
It can froth up to 3.9 oz. and steam up to 8.1 oz. of milk, so it’s an alright model for sharing. Where the VAVA really shines is here, though: it provides four different frothing options, Hot Dense Foam, Hot Airy Foam, Hot Milk, and Cold Froth, and it has an automatic shut off when it’s done so you don’t have to fret about watching it like a hawk. There are max lines for heating and frothing on the inside, it’s scratch-resistant, and has anti-slip rubber feet.
This VAVA Electric Milk Steamer has a stainless steel interior, but if you’re interested in stainless steel inside and out, you can opt for this VAVA, which also features an angled pour spout. There are a few other differences as well, so take a closer look before deciding.
For similar options with different styling, the VIVREAL Milk Frother is available, as well as the CHINYA Milk Frother and the SimpleTaste Milk Frother.
Moving on up, the Capresso offers a great price for quantity—it froths up to 8.1 oz. of milk and 12 oz. of steamed milk, so there’s plenty to go around. You can opt for hot, warm, or cool frothing, and it’s dishwasher safe, so cleaning is a breeze. It’s great for using non-dairy products (including soy and almond milk) and it’s wonderful for making hot chocolate, as well.
If you enjoy entertaining guests, you’ll like the Souvia. It can handle up to three cups of milk, which is great for lattes with the whole crew. It also offers a unique amount of control that the previous models don’t offer—you can set the temperature anywhere from cold to 160 degrees and you can opt for either smooth or serrated frothing. It’s capable of working with any type of milk and the stainless steel jug has a spout so it’s easy to pour. In other words, this is a great model if you’re willing to invest in party-worthy frothing.
This is the top of the tops, and there’s a reason for it.
The Breville BMF600XL Milk Frother holds three cups of frothed milk and offers a significant amount of control over temperature and type, including a cappuccino and a latte disk, a cold stir option, and uses induction heating versus a motor. It’s dishwasher safe and has a pour spout. It’s pretty much the everything-you-could-want-in-a-milk-frother milk frother.
There are a number of great options on this list but it honestly comes down to what you intend to invest in. If you’re hesitant and just sort of want to test it out, the Bean Envy Handheld Milk Frother would be my recommendation. This handheld frother won’t take up space if you end up not using it often, but it’s also a quality product that if you do use it, it won’t let you down.
If your goal is the save money by making your lattes at home, we’d say the VAVA Electric Milk Steamer if it’s just you, but if you plan on consistently making beverages for multiple people, the Capresso Automatic Milk Frother is a better option.
And, ultimately, if you’re invested it in for the long haul, we strongly recommend Breville’s Cafe Milk Frother. It’s the crème de la crème of luxurious coffee connoisseur items.