For those of us that are old enough, the days when the only types of coffee out there were “coffee” and “decaf” don’t seem that long ago. They were simpler times indeed – the coffee at every diner, coffee shop, convenience store, fast food joint, or other places, was always the same. It was just coffee. There were no cappuccinos, no espressos, no lattes, let alone the infamous “pumpkin spice chai lattes”. And while people can be excused to wonder why do we need all this diversity, as well as why do these new coffees cost that much, the simple fact is that they taste great and we love them. And milk frothers are a big reason for this.
However, while milk frothers explain why espressos or lattes are so much tastier than plain coffee, they don’t explain why espressos and lattes are so expensive. After all, it’s just coffee and milk, right? Well, the short answer to why coffee at shops such as Starbucks, Costa, and others, cost as much as a regular t-shirt, is that people are willing to pay for it. It has nothing to do with the cost of preparing the actual espresso or latte.
In fact, if you simply own a milk frother at home, you can make your own delicious mocha, latte, espresso or cappuccino. And this is the great benefit of milk frothers that we’ll delve into in this article. With a nice milk frother, be it an electric milk frother or a manual one, you can prepare yourself delicious coffee every morning with almost no effort. For the same time that you’d otherwise spend going to the coffee house and waiting in line, you can make yourself a coffee that’s just as good at home and for a fraction of the price. And if you are forth-thinking enough you’d get yourself the best milk frother you can find so that its performance and longevity are as good as possible.
To help you do all that, we tried our best to gather all the existing and relevant information on milk frothers we could find online. With this article we aim to help you find the best coffee milk frother for you, teach you how to use a milk frother, examine the difference between a milk heater and frother, look at cheap milk frothers and what you can expect from an item from a lower price range, and generally look at how and why you should buy a milk frother.
Top 3 Milk Frothers
Severin SM 9685
This Severin model comes with both a stylish design and a lot of utility. It’s made out of high-quality stainless steel, which is great for its longevity. This stainless steel milk frother also has a detachable milk frothing jug and a 360° connector that makes it that much easier to use. There are 4 separate temperature settings and LED indicators. In terms of size, this frothy milk maker can froth up to 350 ml or heat up to 700 ml at once.
- This item has a detachable stainless steel milk frothing jug.
- It utilizes an induction heating technology.
- Works with both cold and hot frothing.
- With the highest temperature setting at just 65°C (149°F), this frother doesn’t heat as much as some alternative products.
- The price on the Severin is quite significant.
Aerolatte To Go 56ALTGBK
In this milk frother review we have a more budget option for those that don’t want to spend too much on a coffee frother but are still looking for quality. The Aerolatte To Go is a handheld milk frother that works on batteries. However, it’s still powerful enough to produce a finely frothed milk for just 20 seconds. Both the head and the shaft of this device are made out of food grade quality 18/8 stainless steel.
- It’s great for all kinds of lattes, cappuccinos, milkshakes, and others, as well as soups, dressings, and more.
- As a handheld milk frother, the Aerolatte is easily portable and comfortable to use.
- It’s a great budget option.
- This item requires a certain amount of technique and finesse to produce a truly good frothing.
- It doesn’t offer too much in terms of additional options, modes of operation, and so on.
Philips Senseo Milk Twister CA6500
This Philips Milk Twister model is a great all-around device. It is very flexible and allows for both hot and cold milk foam. The CA6500 also has an anti-stick coating and a waterproof, soft cover, which makes it very easy to just wipe clean or rinse under the tap. The lid of the milk frother is also safe for a dishwasher. It’s an easily portable device that produces foam in a manner of seconds. Keep in mind, however, that you cannot use the CA6500 to just warm up milk.
- This Senseo Milk Twister has a very compact and easily portable design.
- It’s very easy to clean.
- Excellent frothing.
- It has a capacity of just 120 ml.
- The inner parts of this milk frother can’t be removed and cleaned externally.
How we picked the best Milk Frothers?
Choosing the best milk frother devices to recommend to you may have taken quite some time, but it also had its pleasurable moments. After all, the easiest way to test a milk frother machine is to try it out. All the coffee and milk we drank certainly helped us stay awake as we kept working.
Not all of it was delicious, however. As it turns out, there are an awful lot of milk foamer, coffee whisk and milk warmer and frother devices out there that simply aren’t up to par. And the surprising thing is that quite a few of them were among the higher price range as well. Surprising or not, however, this only made it all the more important for us to delve deeper into the world of milk frothers.
We went over several dozen brands, multiple different types and subtypes of milk foamers and frothers, as well as hundreds of customer reviews. What’s more, we tried to examine what characteristics make a milk frother worth buying, what are the reasons why people buy milk frothers, and what they should look for.
The conclusion we reached was that apart from taste and nice frothing capabilities, the additional factors to keep in mind are flexibility, comfort and price.
Flexibility is important for a milk frother because every kitchen appliance becomes infinitely better when it can be used for multiple different things. If we just buy separate devices for every single thing we do in the kitchen, we’ll soon have so many things in there that there won’t be any room left for us. Instead, getting a milk steamer machine or a milk frother that can also be used for soups, dressings, sauces, and more – that’s a good purchase.
It’s also important to choose a milk frother that’s easy and comfortable to use. After all, if you’re going to use it mostly in the morning, right after you’ve woken up and right before you go to work, you don’t really want a device that’s difficult and complex to operate. The quicker and simpler a milk frother is to use, the more enjoyable the whole experience typically is.
We also decided that price is a key factor in this instance as well. There are a lot of industries and product niches where budget concerns should take a step back and let the quality drive the purchase. And while the quality of your future milk frother is important as well, this is a product niche where price matters a bit more than usual. After all, one of the key reasons why people buy milk frothers is exactly so that they can stop spending piles of money in coffee shops. So, finding a milk frother that’s not just of the highest quality, but also has a good quality / price ratio is key.
And these are most of the factors that we kept in mind as we narrowed down the dozens of products we went through to just those few you saw above. Fortunately, in our research we also learned quite a lot about the industry itself, about the different ways to use a milk frother, and more. So, we’ve compiled all that below.
A quick breakdown of milk frothers
It doesn’t take much to explain what a milk frother is, mainly because their name alone is pretty self-explanatory. Milk frothers or foamers, whether electric, manual or any other type, are simply devices that are used to froth milk. To turn it into a nice, foamy form that’s filled with bubbles and goes nicely with coffee or anything else. And while “creating bubbles” sounds easy and simple, milk frothers exist because creating the perfect type of foam for a specific beverage often requires precise technology and execution.
To properly froth or foam milk, air needs to be introduced into the texture of the milk in a certain way. Simply blowing some air into it through a straw achieves nothing, after all. Instead, to create a nice and pleasant foam, the air needs to be dispersed into the milk so that an even spread of milk and air is created. To achieve that one needs to introduce the air with a lot of velocity and speed – much more than can be achieved by simply stirring the milk with a spoon or a fork. Granted, a skilled chef can create a relatively acceptable foam with just a fork and a bowl, but even that won’t be at the level of what a good milk frother can do. Additionally, different beverages (and different consumer tastes) require different types of foam, be it creamier, more velvety, or anything else.
This is where milk frothers come in. To steam milk at home or to froth it into the foam that best matches your preferences, you simply need a good milk frother. With it, you’ll be able to make the ideal coffee, milkshakes and other beverages, just as you like them, in a quick and easy manner. And with milk frothers ranging in price from 6 pounds to 20 times that, you have a wide array of options as to which device will suit your needs the best.
Ideally, milk frothers are great for people that simply can’t wake up with a cup of hot coffee. If you are tired of both dragging yourself to the coffee shop every morning before work, as well as of paying them half an hour’s wage for a cup of coffee, then you need a milk frother. It will save you a ton of time and money, and once you get the hang of it – it will become a nice part of your morning routine. Even if you are not the cooking type, frothing milk is a simple, yet engaging task that only makes the coffee feel that much rewarding.
Handheld and battery-operated milk frothers, more so than the more stationary types of milk frothers, are also ideal on the road. If you are a vivid hiker or camper, a small, light handheld milk frother can become your best friend. It can allow you to turn your ordinary morning coffee in the wilderness into something that you’d otherwise have to get from a Starbucks or a Costa for.
What are the different types of milk frothers?
As seen even by the milk frothers we’ve recommended above, there are multiple different types of devices that are called “milk frothers”. Each of them has their own unique features, their benefits and negatives, as well as their subjective characteristics.
- Frothing wands. Generally speaking, frothing wands are handheld devices with an attachment that’s sticking out of them and that’s used to both froth and warm the milk. Steam is being pushed by a nozzle in the wand and that helps the milk froth. To froth milk with such a wand, first put the tip of the wand into the milk and then open the steam value. Releasing the steam beforehand can cause splash back from the milk. For optimum results keep the nozzle tip just below the surface of the milk. Also, instead of moving the wand itself, it’s actually better – if a little counterintuitive – to move the bowl of milk below it.
When the milk is frothed to your liking, if you want to warm it up a bit more, just stick the nozzle deeper into the milk. To clean the inside of a frothing wand’s nozzle, just dip it into a glass of water and turn the wand on for half a minute.
- Non-electronic hand-pump milk frothers. We haven’t included such a device in this list, but for people who prefer to froth their milk by hand instead of with an electric appliance, hand-pumps are a good choice. They work similarly to a coffee press – they consist of a glass or metal vessel, a lid with a hole in it, and a manual plunger that goes through the hole, leaving a knob above the lid. The plunger has a fine mesh screen at its lower end. To froth milk with this device, simply fill it with as much milk as you’d like (not above the middle line, of course) and start pumping the plunger up and down. The fine mesh screen together with the pumping motions will froth the milk rather quickly.
- Countertop electric milk frothers. Usually dedicated to just milk frothing, these devices froth the milk automatically. You just fill their container with milk, push the necessary button and the machine does the rest while you’re patiently waiting for your milk foam. They can take a couple of minutes to heat up, as well as a couple of minutes to cool down before you can use them again. Also, depending on how many parts they have, how intricately they are built, and so on, they can be easier or harder to wash, so keep that in mind. The positive, however, is that they often produce the best milk foam you’ve ever tasted.
- Handheld electric milk frothers. These differ from frothing wands in that they are mostly just small electric whisks that resemble small propellers. You just turn them on, whether they work through an adapter or batteries, dip them in the milk (just below its surface) while being careful not to cause any splash back, and stir the milk while it fully froths. A lot of such handheld whisks seem great at first but turn out to not be powerful enough, so go for ones that require more powerful batteries.
What are some alternative ways to froth your milk?
If you want to froth your milk but you aren’t certain that you want to buy a milk frother yet, here are several suggestions you can try at home.
- Good o’ fork beating. As you would beat eggs with a fork you can also froth milk. Depending on how handy you are you’ll get different results. While most good milk frothers can do a significantly better job, if you do it well you can still produce a respectable milk foam.
- A regular blender can work as well. Whether a countertop blender or a handheld one, blenders work on a similar way as electric whisk frothers. They are uncomfortable to use for small quantities, however, and they won’t warm up your milk. Still, a good blender can produce a nice foam.
- A standard glass jar can help. If you just pour the milk in a clean glass jar, cover it well with its lid, and shake it vigorously for a while, the milk is bound to form a respectable foam. You can also warm the milk up in a microwave beforehand, whilst in the jar.
- Tea ball infusers can work similarly to French presses / pumps. Just take a regular tea ball infuser that you typically use to boil tea leaves in, dip it into the glass / bowl of milk, and start stirring as you would with a fork. The fine mesh screen of the ball will help produce a nice foam. Be careful to always clean the ball infuser of tea leaves, however, as you don’t really want them in your milk foam.
What else can you use a milk frother for?
Depending on their type and model, milk frothers can be used for a lot of different things. From milk and foam for lattes cappuccinos, espressos, and other types of coffee, through whip cream for cakes, pastry and other types of deserts, through various cold or warm cocktails chocolate, cinnamon, fruit flavors, and others, all the way to dressings, soups and sauces. Since milk frothers can come in all shapes and sizes, you really want to think beforehand about what you can and will use them for. It’s rather unfortunate to purchase a certain milk frother and then realize that you could have used another model that does a couple of extra things you actually need.
And speaking of what you should do before buying a milk frother, let’s take a look at our buying guide
As a pretty diverse category of products, milk frothers require quite a bit of research and forethought before the right purchase can be made. To that end, here are some steps you can consider.
Decide how and for what you’re going to use your milk frother for.
A generally good rule for all product groups, this is especially true for niches such as this one that have a large variety of products. Would a hand-pump or a French press be enough for your needs or do you require an electric milk frother for something else in addition to making your morning coffee? The opposite consideration is also important – are you sure that you aren’t buying a needlessly complicated product that has features you’ll never actually use? You can buy the best electric milk frother if you want, but then realize that all you needed was a French press.
Choose how much you’re willing to pay.
Price is always a factor, especially for appliances that can be categorized as “luxury items”. With prices on milk frothers ranging from 6 pounds to north of 100 pounds, this is a pretty significant decision. Granted, most people’s budgets may not break from 100 pounds for a kitchen appliance, but when said appliance is needlessly expensive, that’s just an unnecessary waste.
Look at multiple different brands.
Even after you’ve decided on the type of frother you need and the price range you’re willing to look at, there are still a lot of brands to choose from. If you want to find the best milk frother UK, the US, Europe or the East has to offer, we’d suggest that you start with some of these brands: Philips, Severin, Aerolatte, OBH Nordica, Epica, Breville, Secura, Capresso, Matcha, Elementi and Kuissential. Of course, there are great milk frothers from other brands as well, plus new brands rise up every year, but these are the ones we suggest you take a look at first.
Additional information about milk frothers and how to use them
The milk frother itself isn’t the only important part of the process – the milk itself is essential as well. There are a lot of different types of milk out there, all with different chemical contents and properties. Based on those things, different types of milk produce different quality and taste of foam. As a result of that, some people recommend some types of milk, while others recommend different types.
The temperature of the milk is also important for the taste of the froth, but it’s also subjective. Some people will tell you that the milk should always be warm at about body heat level, others maintain that it should be warmer, while others only froth cold milk. The simple fact of the matter is that different temperatures produce different types of foam, so experiment with your milk frother and see what you like the best.
Still, to help you out a bit more, let’s take a look at how different types of milk respond to frothing?
- Whole milk produces a foam that is softer, thicker and creamier than skim milk. It’s very rich in taste and becomes firmer as you are drinking the coffee.
- Skim milk will usually produce more foam than whole milk does. The foam will have somewhat larger bubbles, be of a firmer consistency and have a more neutral taste. After a while the foam will become drier and stiffer.
- Calcium-enriched milk has added modified milk substances, minerals and proteins. Most such kinds of milk tend to froth very well and create creamy and thick foam.
- UHT milk is milk that’s processed at very high temperatures. That’s done to sterilize the milk before packaging, but the side effect is that it also improves the frothing potential of the milk’s lactoserum proteins. This milk produces a lot of firm and long-lasting foam.
- Natrel-brand lactose-free milk has a high protein content compared to other types of milk. This results in a greater amount of foam with finer bubbles.
- Goat and sheep milk, for those that are looking for a healthier option, also froth very well. Their protein content is similar to that of cow’s milk so they still froth nicely.
- Soy milk, if you are lactose intolerant, can also be used for frothing, but the quality of the foam depends between different brands. Some manufacturers produce soy milk specifically for coffee shops so that it can still froth well. Others, however, fail to produce a firm and stable foam.
- Almond milk has a very low protein content compared to other kinds of milk – only 2 grams per 250 ml cup (compared to 6 – 11 grams of others), but it still foams quite well. It produces a lovely and delicate but still long-lasting foam.
Living with and using milk frothers
With so many different types of milk frothers, the cleaning and maintenance tips for these devices vary from item to item. Generally speaking, countertop electric milk frothers can be very annoying to clean properly. Often times they can’t be fully disassembled, their inner parts can’t be removed to be cleaned separately, you have to be careful for water not to affect the device and so on. With such milk frothers more so than with all others, we recommend that you make sure you won’t have problems cleaning them before you make the purchase. Some electric milk frothers can be such a nightmare to clean that a lot of people simply don’t use them a second time.
Most other types of milk frothers are much easier to maintain, however. They tend to be simple and straightforward devices with not too many intricate parts, so there isn’t much in them that can be broken. As long as you use them properly and clean them adequately, they should serve you well for a long time.
Milk frothers are a vast and diverse category of products. All of them serve one main purpose, however – to make your coffee and other beverages taste infinitely better. With a good milk frother in your hands, you can both save a lot of money from coffee shops, as well as give yourself a lot of pleasant moments.
Be careful when buying a milk frother, however, since a lot of the models on the market are sub-par in their quality and will neither give you a positive experience nor last a long time. When buying a milk frother it’s important to choose a device that best serves your needs, as well as to find a model and a brand that will offer you a high enough quality. This is precisely what we aimed for in the products we recommended here.
The Severin SM 9685 is a nice countertop electric milk frother that offers a lot of versatility. It can be used for a lot of different situations, has multiple different settings, and is made out of high-quality stainless steel.
The Aerolatte To Go 56ALTGBK is a great handheld budget option for those that are just looking for a quick and nice milk frothing in the morning. It doesn’t have any additional options and features, but in the hands of a skilled user, it can be used for various different tasks.
The Philips Senseo Milk Twister CA6500 is another great countertop electric choice, but it is much smaller, more compact and portable than the Severin. This comes with both upsides and downsides, as the portability comes at the expense of a smaller volume the Philips can produce at a time.