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Milk Frother Guide

Choosing the perfect milk Frother

You’ve chosen your beans. They’re roasted to perfection. And you’ve got the grind down to a T.

What’s next? Well, if you’re a cappuccino, latte, or macchiato coffee lover, then milk is a vital component in your daily brew.

For milky coffees the perfect cup requires frothy milk. While drinking out at coffee shops is a great experience, doing so on a regular basis can get pricey so, as coffee becomes ever more popular, it’s no surprise that many people want to recreate their preferred coffee type at home, complete with froth.

Traditionally, frothing your own milk meant investing in an espresso machine, which were often expensive. However, things have changed, and you coffee lovers can now create your perfect frothy coffee easily and inexpensively by purchasing your very own milk frother.

frothy milk

What is a milk frother?

As the name suggests, a milk frother is a handy little tool for frothing milk. It does so by aerating the milk through rapid whisking.

This agitation causes air to enter the milk, resulting in a foam, which may be light, or thick and creamy dependent on preference. This frothed milk adds a creamier texture to the coffee than non-frothed milk, and balances out strong espresso flavours.

For those who like to show-off a little, you can also turn your coffee into a work of art, using the foam to create eye-catching designs.

What types of frother are there?

Appearance and design-wise, frothers can be handheld or jug in style, and may be manual or electric. While all types perform the same job, they do so in different ways, and the end result can vary in quality. For those who prefer hot milk in their coffee, some frothers also heat the milk as it foams.

Frothy milk for a cappuccino

What to consider before buying

While you might wonder how much milk frothers can really vary, as with most things, there are a wide variety of milk frothers now available. Before splashing out you need to ask yourself a few questions to make sure you purchase the right one for you.

What do you need to think about? Well, when you plan on using your frother is the first one. If you like to start your day with a caffeine hit, then a manual frother might be too time-consuming.
How many cups do you tend to make at one time? If it’s usually a single cup, then you can get away with a smaller frother.

Do you just want to make coffee, or do you like making milkshakes and hot chocolate too? Then a multi-function frother would meet your needs. And, finally, how often will you use it? Each time you use your frother it needs cleaning. If you use it frequently, then it’s best to choose something that is easy to clean.

Handheld frothers

At the cheaper end of the market, the handheld frother is the most basic option. Small and battery powered, they feature a small whisk at one end.

This is submerged in a jug of milk and held there as the whisk spins at high speed to froth the milk to the desired consistency.

While some people like to heat the milk first, cold milk actually froths more readily and achieves a better consistency.

However, handheld frothers may not be powerful enough to froth large amounts of milk, and so are best suited for working with small volumes.

They shouldn’t be used in cups or other breakable vessels as the whisk can cause chipping, damaging the whisk and potentially leading to injury if the loose chips are accidentally drunk.

Hand pump milk frothers

Looking much like a cafeteria, or French press, the hand pump milk frother is a lidded jug – usually made of stainless steel – that features a plunger attached to a mesh screen.

It’s the cheapest of the jug style milk frothers and, as the name suggests, works by ‘pumping’ the plunger up and down. Creating the right consistency foam for your coffee can be relatively labour-intensive and takes several minutes.

These are not recommended if you’re typically making large amounts of coffee, or have limited time.

Stovetop milk frothers

Stovetop milk frothers are a variation on the hand pump frother. The only difference is that it’s placed on a hob to heat the milk before you pump it to perfection.

While the manual aspect gives you full control over temperature and frothiness, you may want to invest in a thermometer to ensure that you’re not overheating the milk.

As the jugs are usually stainless steel, you’ll need to keep checking the consistency of the froth through the process.

Electric jug milk frothers

Electric frothers are the most expensive type, and available in a wide range of styles and shapes. Most look like small kettles and are the least labour intensive frothers. Press a button and hey presto! Milk heated and frothed to a rich foam.

Functionality of these can vary widely. Some electric jug frothers can only heat to one temperature and produce one froth consistency. Others allow you to vary the temperature and desired consistency.

Some only heat milk while others can be used for producing milkshakes and hot chocolates and, in some cases, even soup. Obviously, the more functionality the frother offers, the more you can expect to pay.