You’re looking for a new milk frother but you’re not sure which is best for you. Do you go for a battery-operated handheld frother or opt for a manual device? Convenience, price and ease of use are just some of the things to take into account before deciding which to buy. But which frother comes out on top and is the best one for you? We compare the two types of frother so you don’t have to.
A frother is a frother. Right?
Not really. Yes, ultimately, they do the same thing. They whip milk into a dense foam to make any number of different frothy coffees from hot sweet cappuccinos to iced frappes. With either device it will take around 30 seconds to make the froth. But they differ in how they achieve that textured foam.
So how are handheld and manual milk frothers different?
Although both appliances make great foam, how they do so is very different. Let’s look at them in action and the step-by-step process you would use to make a cappuccino.
First of all, regardless which type of milk frother you use, the basic process is the same.
1 – Warm the milk in a pitcher / jug.
2 – Prepare your coffee shot.
3 – Froth the milk.
4 – Pour the warm milk onto the coffee base.
5 – Add the froth left in the pitcher / jug.
It’s step 3 which is different – the way handheld and manual milk frothers create the foam. Here’s how they work. Let’s start with handheld frothers.
How handheld milk frothers work
How manual milk frothers work
Which is best?
The handheld models are by far the most popular. They certainly sell in larger numbers than the manual devices. But the number of sales doesn’t necessarily define which is the best frother for you.
If you have arthritis in your hands or wrist problems you definitely don’t want a manual frother. My wife suffers from arthritis and can’t use them. The 30-45 seconds of plunging the handle up and down is too much and causes her pain.
She can however use a handheld frother though it still isn’t comfortable. If you too suffer with pain in the hands or wrists consider an electric (automatic) milk frother. Those appliances are operated by the touch of a button and can be used by anyone.
Handheld vs manual milk frothers – the comparison
Each of these appliances have their pros and cons. I have to admit that I use both though the handheld is the one I use the most. But let’s look at the good and not so good points of each device.
Handheld milk frothers
- Super convenient.
- Very easy to use.
- Very powerful (top of the range)
- Just a few seconds to clean.
- Can be used for other whisking tasks in the kitchen.
- Battery powered.
- Quality varies massively between models.
- Difficult to store (unless stand provided).
Manual milk frothers
- Glass and stovetop models can heat milk.
- Easy to use.
- Some models are microwave and dishwasher safe.
- Plunger handle can break easily.
- Not suitable for arthritis sufferers.
- Replacement parts not available.
I really like the manual frother I use. The Bodum Latteo has a heat resistant carafe so it can be popped into the microwave to heat the milk.
But, for convenience and speed a top of the range handheld frother like the Milk Boss or Bonsenkitchen models can’t be beaten.
On balance, I’d have to say if you’re going to choose one you should buy a:
Handheld milk frother.
Which frother should I buy?
We’ve picked out the top three models of both handheld and manual frothers. You can see how they compare in the tables below.
Top 3 handheld milk frothers
Top 3 manual milk frothers
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