Have you ever wondered why some lattes and cappuccinos are better tasting compared to others even when made using the same ingredients?
The variation in taste can most likely be attributed to the foam or froth that sits on the top. This short article is about milk frothing for beginners.
What is Milk Foam?
The best foam is one with a smooth texture since it has the smallest sized bubbles and is known as microfoam.
The bubbles are actually so small that you actually have to look closely for them to be visible.
The large bubbles you typically see on your morning drink is responsible for leaving the froth flat, dry, and tasteless.
If you are buying from a coffee house or other type of specialty coffee shops, there’s not much you can do regarding the froth, except perhaps suggesting that somebody train the baristas on how to create good froth. Fortunately, you can always create your own smooth froth at home, with just minimal effort.
A great cappuccino (coffee, a bit of milk, and plenty of froth) or latte (coffee, some steamed milk, and a bit of froth) starts with having milk at the right temperature; 150°-160°Fahrenheit (65°-70°C). So, ensure that you use your thermometer to get it right.
Use the Right Espresso Machine
If you are using an espresso machine, you should turn off the stem at about 5° to 10° before it reaches the desired temperature. The thermometer does not adjust instantly, which means that it will keep rising for several seconds after you turn off the stem.
Do proper research if you plan to buy an espresso machine to use at home. Read espresso machine reviews left by users on different models before buying. We have plenty of reviews at Sweet Lucys (click link for more information). The vast majority of machines produce a decent coffee and are capable of steaming milk properly enough, but a good espresso maker should create excellent quality froth using its built-in steam wand.
Good espresso machines can go a long way towards creating the perfect drink, but there’s a bit more to it than just turning on the steam wand, heating the milk to the required frothed milk temperature, and spooning the froth onto your drink.
Instead of simply sticking the steam wand into your milk, it is better to keep the froth hole at the milk’s surface. If you check it closely, you will see a tiny hole on one side. That’s what is referred to as the froth hole.
Keeping the hole at the milk’s surface allows milk to be drawn in and this creates a smoother, denser forth. You may also want to hold the pitcher at a slight angle so that the steam wand rests at the pitcher’s side. That allows the swirling of milk around the pitcher, which results in great froth.
Intermingle Milk and Froth
Baristas often assume that the froth must always be at the top of the milk during steaming. However, nothing could be further from the truth. You want the milk and froth to intermingle during this step.
You’ll have to lower the pitcher’s level gradually as milk expands into froth to ensure that the froth hole is always at the right level. The more you work the milk, the greater the amount of froth you will create. You want to see froth sitting on top when poured into a cup.
Steps For Frothing Milk
To recap how you can make excellent froth, here are the steps:
- Start out with some cold milk and a clean, cold pitcher
- Use only as much milk as necessary and never attempt to re-steam milk
- Achieve the right temperature (150° to 160°F) using a thermometer
- Keep the froth hole at the milk’s surface
- Work the milk until the desired amount of froth is reached. Traditionally, you want the volume of milk to expand by ½ for cappuccinos and by 1/3 for lattes
- Pour the desired amount of milk into your cup and then spoon on the froth.
Milk Frothing Additional Tips
Here are a few additional steps to help you achieve an excellent froth.
What Is the Best Milk for Frothing?
Always start with cold milk. Just about any type of milk can be frothed, including almond, rice, and soy. My personal favorite is vanilla almond milk. The milk’s fat content impacts the results directly.
Non-fat milk foams the best while whole milk is usually harder to get a good foam from. Still, there’s nothing quite like a latter or cappuccino made using whole milk.
Create a Smooth Texture
Once you have turned off the wand and before pouring, tap the pitcher’s side several times, give it a few quick spins and allow it to rest for a moment. That helps pop some off the larger bubbles and creates a smoother texture.
Frothing Milk Options
You can always froth by hand if you don’t have an espresso machine. Start by warming milk either in the microwave or on the stove to reach the target temperature. Pour the warm milk into a coffee cup and place a small hand whisk into the cup.
Whisk and ‘roll’ the handle back and forth quickly between your hands until the desired amount of froth is achieved with an electric frother.
You can also buy a battery-operated whisker or a stand-alone frothing machine if you prefer.
It takes practice to achieve the proper froth, so don’t be discouraged. Since you will be enjoying every cup with or without the perfect froth, you have plenty of time to get it right.