Steamed Milk vs Frothed Milk: What Should You Choose?

Last Updated on January 24, 2024

If you’re someone who takes their coffee seriously, then you probably know that sometimes the smallest details can make all the difference. When it comes to creating the perfect latte or cappuccino, one of those details is the way you prepare your milk.

Specifically, the decision between steaming your milk or frothing it can have a big impact on the final product. While these two techniques might seem similar, they actually produce very different results, and each offers its own unique benefits. So, steamed milk vs frothed milk, which should you choose?

steamed milk vs frothed milk, what should you choose?

In this post, we’ll explore the differences between steamed milk and frothed milk, as well as dive into some of the reasons why you might choose one over the other. So if you’re ready to take your coffee game to the next level, let’s get started!

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Why is Milk Steamed or Frothed?

Whether it’s a creamy latte or a frothy cappuccino, there are a few key differences when it comes to steamed and frothed milk. While both are heated, the key distinction lies in how each process affects the milk’s texture and taste.

Steaming milk produces a velvety, silky texture that complements bold espresso flavors. Frothing milk, on the other hand, aerates the milk and creates a thick foam perfect for latte art. But why is milk treated in this way at all?

Simply put, milk is steamed or frothed to change its composition. The heat and steam break down the natural fats and sugars in the milk, creating a sweeter, richer taste.

So whether you’re a coffee novice or a seasoned barista, understanding the differences between steamed and frothed milk is key to creating the perfect cup of coffee.

Let’s delve into each a little more.

What is Steamed Milk? When is it Used?

cappuccino with steamed milk

Steamed milk is created by heating it with steam, which makes it silky and smooth. This process also creates a layer of microfoam on top of the milk, adding an extra layer of texture to your beverage.

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Typically, steamed milk pairs better with milder coffee drinks, such as lattes, flat whites, and cappuccinos. These drinks benefit from the creamy texture that steamed milk provides and allow the coffee flavor to stand out.

What type of milk is best for steaming?

When it comes to steaming milk for coffee drinks, the type of milk can have a big impact on the end result.

While whole milk is a popular choice for its extra creamy texture, it can also be high in fat. Skim milk, on the other hand, is a lower-fat option that can still produce a good froth. Another option is almond milk, which is a favorite among vegans or those with lactose intolerance.

It’s important to choose a milk that has a good balance of fat and protein to achieve the perfect froth. Experiment with different types of milk to find the one that works best for your taste buds.

How to steam milk at home

If you’re a fan of milk-based coffee drinks, you may be looking for a way to steam milk at home without investing in an espresso machine. The good news is, it’s entirely possible to create perfectly frothy milk without any fancy equipment.

Begin by warming your milk on the stovetop until you just begin to see steam coming from the surface. Then use one of these methods to steam it:

1. French press

First, pour the warm milk into the carafe of a French press. Cover it with the lid and plunger. 

Then, get ready for the magic! Vigorously pump the plunger up and down through the milk until it reaches your desired velvety smoothness.

2. Milk frother

Pour the warmed milk into a sturdy stainless steel milk pitcher or jug. Use either a handheld or automatic milk frother, just like you would a steamer wand.

Begin by tilting the pitcher slightly, then bring the frother just below the surface to introduce a touch of air. Lower the frother gradually, creating a swirling motion until the milk reaches your desired creamy consistency.

3. Whisk

Whisk it up! A simple handheld whisk is all you need to add that perfect texture to your steamed milk. Just follow these easy steps: Heat the milk gently in a small saucepan on the stove and give it a good whisk. Once it reaches around 125°F, you’ll notice it transform into a light and airy foam. Time to take it off the heat and pour that beautifully frothed milk. Enjoy!

Whether you’re looking to save money or just love the feeling of achieving success with a DIY method, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy and satisfying it can be to steam milk at home.

What is Frothed Milk? When is it Used?

espresso coffee with frothed milk

Frothed milk is milk that has been aerated using a frother or steam wand. This process incorporates air into the milk and creates a light, fluffy texture. This process is popular in creating latte art, where baristas pour frothed milk to create intricate designs on coffee drinks.

Frothed milk works well with stronger coffee drinks, such as macchiatos, Americanos, and espressos. The frothed milk adds a layer of sweetness and balances out the bitterness of the coffee.

What type of milk is best for frothing?

The answer is simple: choose milk with higher fat content. Whole milk (3.25% fat) is the easiest to froth and produces a thick, creamy foam. If you prefer a lighter option, 2% or skim milk are also good choices, but they may require a bit more skill to froth properly.

Non-dairy options like soy, almond, or oat milk can also be frothed, but the results may vary depending on the brand and the milk’s protein content.

So, next time you’re craving a frothy coffee, grab a carton of whole milk and get ready to impress yourself and your guests with your barista-level frothing skills!

How to froth milk at home

Do you ever crave a delicious, frothy latte, but feel hesitant to make one at home? Frothing milk may seem intimidating, but with a few easy steps, you can have café-quality foam in the comfort of your own kitchen. The key is to start with cold milk, ideally whole milk or milk with higher fat content.

Pour the desired amount into a metal frothing pitcher and heat it until it’s warm to the touch, but not too hot. Then, place the steam wand just beneath the surface of the milk and turn on the steam until it creates a swirling motion.

Keep frothing until the milk has doubled in volume and has a smooth, velvety texture. With a little practice, you’ll be a pro at frothing milk and creating your own delicious lattes, cappuccinos, and more.

Or, if you really want a professional froth for your coffee drinks, invest in an Aeroccino milk frother.

This is my frothing method of choice, and with the model I own shown below, I can froth milk either hot or cold. It’s very simple, just pour in your milk of choice and hit a button. Voila!

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Nestle Nespresso Aeroccino3 3594 Black Milk Frother
  • Multipurpose Frother: The Nespresso Aeroccino 3 Milk Frother offers three styles of preparation – hot milk foam, hot milk, or cold froth
  • Make Beverage Recipes at Home: It helps you to prepare your favorite coffee beverage recipes at home in a simple way
  • Easy Maintenance: It is nonstick and easy to clean
  • Convenient: The frother features a convenient automatic shut-off
  • Finish: The milk frother comes in a classic black finish that is reminiscent of the retro Nespresso Aerrocinos

Hot or Cold? How Should Steamed or Frothed Milk be Served?

If you’re a fan of lattes and cappuccinos, you probably already know that steamed milk is a crucial element in creating the perfect cup. What you may be wondering is whether steamed milk can be served hot or cold.

The answer is actually quite simple: steamed milk should always be served hot. The reason for this is that the steaming process involves heating the milk to a high temperature, which creates tiny bubbles that give the milk its creamy texture. Serving cold steamed milk would not only be unpleasant to drink, but it would also ruin the texture and consistency of the milk.

On the other hand, frothed milk can be served hot or cold depending on the type of drink you’re making. Frothed milk is made by aerating heated milk, which creates a frothy layer on top. While frothed milk is most commonly used in hot drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, it can also be added to cold beverages like iced coffee or smoothies for an extra luxurious touch.

Conclusion: Steamed Milk vs Frothed Milk

Whether you’re a barista or an avid home coffee enthusiast, knowing the difference between steamed milk and frothed milk is essential to creating picture-perfect café-style drinks.

Steamed milk is heated until it’s just below boiling and creates velvety foam that acts as a natural sweetener for coffee drinks. On the other hand, frothed milk is aerated with a steam wand or frother to create a light, creamy foam that can be added to both hot and cold drinks.

No matter which type of milk you decide to use, the important thing is to experiment with different techniques and find what works best for you. Enjoy!

Steamed Milk vs Frothed Milk: What does this mean and how should you choose?