When you look at most coffee recipes, you will see that you need to first heat your milk before it can be frothed. Moreover, a lot of electric milk frothers will warm the milk up for you, so that you don’t have to lift a finger. However, there are some drinks that call for cold foam; but can you do this in the same way, and do you need special equipment?
In this guide, we will be looking at how best to froth cold milk as well as discovering the best milk frother for cold foam. If you’ve got a craving for a cool, frothy drink, you’re in the right place.
Why froth with cold milk?
You may have been taught that warm milk foams better than cold and in some cases, this is true. But there’s a little bit of science behind using cold milk and it might surprise you.
The reason that most baristas froth their milk when it is warm is because, as the liquid heats up, it becomes much sweeter. For many drinks, such as cappuccino, you want a sweet, smooth foam. However, if you aren’t bothered about how sweet the milk is, then temperature doesn’t really factor into the equation.
Moreover, you might consider that milk takes in air better when it is cold. The quicker you can get rips in the milk while it’s still cool, the better your froth will be.
Does cold milk foam as well as warm milk?
There are a lot of ways to create the perfect foam and among coffee lovers, there is a lot of disagreement on whether it is best to heat or not to heat. Look around the internet and you’ll see what we mean. Some experts will tell you that frothing warm milk is the only way, while others swear by only using cold.
For the purposes of this article, we are going to take the side of cold frothing and there is a good reason for this. Many experts will tell you that there is a sweet spot for milk frothing, in terms of temperature. Between 57ºc and 66ºc, to be exact.
Once you go over this temperature, proteins and fats in the milk begin to come unstuck and this means that the liquid loses much of its structure. The result? It becomes more difficult to create foam.
Which type of milk frother can I use for cold foam?
Many electric milk frothers are designed not only to create foam but also to heat the milk. However, they all also have a ‘cold foam’ function. Bit, to be quite honest I’m not sure why you would ever use this option.
The reason many coffee lovers prefer automatic electric milk frothers is precisely because the device not froths the milk but heats it as well. This makes it very convenient to use. But if you’re not going to heat the milk, why bother with an electric frother?
Instead, we recommend going for one of the manual methods. Don’t be put off by the term ‘manual’ as both methods only take around 30 seconds before you have a cup of freshly foamed, light, creamy milk to add to your iced drinks. And they are much quicker to clean as well.
Handheld milk frothers like the Zulay Milk Boss are by far the easiest way of frothing cold milk. These are inexpensive devices that act in a similar way to a whisk. You simply pop them into a cup of cold milk, switch them on and slowly move the frother around the liquid until it begins to foam. It’s a very easy process as we demonstrate in the video below.
So which are the best handheld frothers for cold foam? You can find our recommendations in the table below:
The other option is to use a manual milk frother like the Bodum Latteo. You create the foam by working the plunger back and forth as you can see in the video below. This requires slightly more exertion than using a handheld milk frother, but the results come almost as quickly, and you’ll be left with an excellent quality foam.
If you think a manual milk frother is for you check out our Bodum Latteo review.
A third alternative if you don’t have a frother at home is to use a French Press. While these are typically used to brew coffee, their plunger also provides the ability to froth milk. However, while this can work it isn’t as effective as creating your cold foam with a milk frother. Horses for courses and all that.
Which drinks can I make with cold frothed milk?
If you’re making a warm coffee like a latte, the chances are that you aren’t going to want to top it off with cold foam. That’s going to make the drink incredibly unbalanced. However, there are a lot of coffee-based drinks that are designed to be taken cold.
Iced coffee or iced tea as well as any type of cold brew are all far better suited to cold foam. In essence, any cold drink that you would add foam should be made using cold milk.
Which is the best milk to use for cold foam?
As we have discussed, when milk is heated, it loses much of its structure. Without those important proteins, and more importantly, fats, it becomes nigh on impossible to create a decent foam. For this reason, you want to choose a milk that has a good fat content.
Whole cow’s milk is always going to be the best option and the results will always be impressive.
However, if your diet dictates that you cannot have cow’s milk, there is a great variety of plant-based milks that you can use in its place.
Of course, you will still want to ensure that your chosen product has as much naturally occurring fat and protein as possible to get the best foam.
Most people would agree that soy milk is the best option for a non-dairy foam as this has a very similar structure to cow’s milk. If you can’t get your hands on this then oat milk or pea milk also work incredibly well.
It is worth pointing out that while low fat milk won’t give you as rich or creamy foam, it is a good option if you want to create froth with very tiny air bubbles.
However, if you do want to create some serious froth you should use barista blend vegan milk.
Available in different flavours this type of milk is specially formulated to foam while still being vegan.
Whether you’re looking forward to a caramel iced latte or settling down in the sun to enjoy a chilled chai, one of the most important ingredients is cold foam.
You cannot add warm frothed milk to these drinks, unless you want an odd temperature balance so grab your milk frother and make some cold foam to top off your drink.
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