How do you use a milk frother for coffee? Best milk frothers for coffee and to use them

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Using a milk frother will take your coffee making to a whole new level with you able to enjoy franchise quality cappuccino, latte, and other frothy coffees in your own kitchen. You don’t need barista skills and within just a couple of minutes you can be drinking a tasty, foamy coffee with no more queuing for overpriced beverages in a high street franchise.

Using a milk frother for coffee is an easy four step process:
1 – Brew coffee.
2 – Heat milk in the microwave.
3 – Insert whisk head of milk frother into heated milk and froth for 30 seconds.
4 – Pour foam and milk onto coffee.

Why use a milk frother for coffee?

If you haven’t used a milk frother at home you’ll be amazed at how these simple little devices can completely change the way you drink coffee.

I have to admit that before I discovered ‘the power of the froth’ I was someone who frequented high street cafes and franchises and enjoyed wonderfully creamy cappuccino only to go home and drink tasteless instant coffee. You may be the same.

But, once I started using a milk frother, my coffee making habits changed radically. It’s great to know you don’t have to queue in a franchise coffee house for an overpriced latte anymore. You can whip one up at home that is even better tasting in just a couple of minutes. All thanks to your clever little milk frother.

Cup of cappuccino coffee on wooden table
Easy to do at home

Of course, you don’t have to use a milk frother to make coffee. You can make do with instant or those sachet coffees which contain milk and promise a frothy coffee experience. You could also use a pod machine in which you add a capsule of milk to the coffee.

Yes, you can do all those things. But, I guarantee, you’ll enjoy your coffee much more, and have more fun making it, if you buy a milk frother. Trust me on this one.

What are the different kinds of milk frother?

If there is one thing I’ve learned since I began this blog it is that people are constantly surprised at how many different types of milk frother there are.

Most people will associate a milk frother with the small handheld whisk type appliances. And these are undoubtedly the most common. But there are actually four types of milk frother:

Handheld.
Electric.
Manual.
Stovetop.

I won’t go into too much detail here; we’ve covered this elsewhere on the website. You can learn more by reading: What is a milk frother, how to use it and FAQs.

But, to save you clicking away from the page, I’ve briefly summarised each type below.

The Aerolatte handheld milk frother

Handheld: The most popular milk frother. Battery powered; it has the appearance of a small kitchen whisk. The best handheld milk frothers are surprisingly powerful and will whip up thick foam in around 30 seconds though you do have to heat the milk separately either in the microwave or on the hob. Our recommended handheld frother is made by Aerolatte.

Electric: As you’ll have guessed these frothers are powered by mains electricity. They resemble a small kettle or jug and automatically heat milk and create form in around two minutes. Most electric frothers have three functions; hot foam, cold foam, and heat milk. However, our recommended electric milk frother is the Severin SM3587 which has 13 different programmes.

Bodum Latteo manual milk frother

Manual: Without doubt the most fun to use out of all the different types of milk frother. After heating the milk, you pour it into the jug of the frother, reattach the lid and then work the plunger for around 30 seconds to make foam. Our recommended manual milk frother is the Bodum Latteo which makes really thick foam.

Stovetop: The least common. It is very much like a manual frother except with a stovetop model the milk is poured into the frothers jug which is then placed on the hob to heat the milk. Once done the plunger is used to make the foam. If you’re a beginner I would stay clear of this type of frother as they can be a bit of a faff to use. But, if you want to give it a go, I would highly recommend the Judge stovetop frother.

Which milk frother is best for coffee?

Whichever milk frother you use you’re going to improve your coffee. But, for frother newbies, I’ll narrow down the options.

I would disregard stovetop milk frothers. They can be tricky to use and to be honest are a bit of a faff. It’s also very easy to burn the milk which would completely spoil your day. Especially after all the messing about you’ve gone through to heat it up in the first place. So, let’s forget about stovetop frothers.

Manual frothers can get great results. With the best you’ll make a very rich foam. The same with an electric frother. If you’re looking for convenience an electric frother will be the best for you as it will both heat and foam your milk. If you enjoy a hands-off approach to your coffee making an electric frother is the way to go.

But, for the purposes of this article, we’ll keep things simple. And low cost. You can buy a premium handheld milk frother for well under £25. Great value for money and with a handheld frother you’re in full control when it comes to making your coffee.

So, out of all the milk frothers I would suggest you opt for a handheld model. And this is the type of milk frother we’ll use when we answer the question we posed at the top of the page…

How do you use a milk frother for coffee?

OK, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Making a great tasting coffee with a milk frother is very straightforward and only takes a few minutes.

The main thing to realise is that frothing the milk is of course only half the battle. Firstly, you make the coffee base before adding the foamed milk. We’ll discuss the best coffee maker to use shortly but let’s sketch out the basic process of how to use a milk frother for coffee:

1 – Prepare your coffee base (I use 60ml espresso style coffee brewed in an AeroPress).
2 – Heat 225ml milk (using the microwave is the easiest way to do this)
3 – Make the foam with your milk frother.
4 – Add the foamed milk to your coffee base.

That’s in a nutshell. It seems very straightforward and it really is.

How long does it take to make coffee with a milk frother?

This really depends on the coffee maker you’re using. If you’re making the coffee base from scratch, with an AeroPress or French Press for example, and assuming you’ve already ground your beans you’re only looking at around 2-3 minutes to make a wonderful coffee complete with creamy foam.

The trick of course is to multitask and make sure you prepare your coffee while you’re heating and frothing your milk. While you’re heating your milk in the microwave, prepare your coffee and let it steep. Remove the heated milk from the microwave and foam with your milk frother. Once you’ve made your foam, pour your prepared coffee into a cup and add your milk.

As I said earlier, the whole process shouldn’t take longer than 3 minutes and you’ll have made a cappuccino or latte equally as good as you could get from a high street coffee shop.

Which coffees can I make with a milk frother?

Well, obviously espresso or Americano is off the table; but with a milk frother you can make a huge range of foamy coffees. And of course, despite my flippancy you do need an espresso to act as your coffee base.

The easiest coffees to make with a milk frother are cappuccino and latte. But you can make anything from a Cortado to an iced flappe. You can see more on our milk frother recipes page.

Which milk frother should I buy?

There are so many to choose from. But as I’ve mentioned throughout this article if you’re a newcomer to the delights of the milk frother a handheld model is a low-cost and easy to use introduction to making your own cappuccino and lattes at home.

However, that said, for those who would rather take the automated approach we’ll discuss electric milk frothers too. But let’s narrow down the options to make things a bit clearer for you.

Handheld milk frothers

So easy to use, cost around £15 for a top of the range model, and do a brilliant job of making thick creamy foam in around 30 seconds. The drawback is you have to heat your milk separately in a microwave or on the hob, but that’s no hardship.

Milk Boss and Aerolatte side-by-side

I’d recommend either the Aerolatte or Zulay Milk Boss frothers. They cost roughly the same, are both very powerful battery-operated devices, and both are supplied with a nice stand for the countertop so they are always within easy reach. You can read our in-depth reviews by following the links below.

Aerolatte milk frother review

Zulay Milk Boss review

Top four handheld milk frothers

Electric milk frothers

You basically have two choices here. A basic frother which typically has three functions; hot foam, cold foam, heat milk; or a top of the range machine which has a whole range of different programmes to cover everything from hot foam to hot chocolate and bespoke cappuccino settings.

First time users are often surprised when they see an electric milk frother. Smaller than a kettle they are basically a mains powered jug. The foam is created by a small whisk attachment on the base of the jug.

A basic electric milk frother has three functions. It makes cold foam, hot foam (this is the setting you use for your frothy coffee), and heat milk. They are very easy to use. Simply pour in your milk, close the lid, select your programme, and press the on switch. In around two minutes you’ll have warm foamy milk to add to your coffee.

This type of milk frother starts at around £35. However, you can pay up to £120 for a premium electric milk frother. These top of the range machines will have a larger capacity allowing you to make milk for more than one coffee at a time, and more functions including pre-set programmes for cappuccino, latte, hot chocolate etc.

Our recommended high-end electric milk frothers are made by Severin though you can learn more about these frothers in this article: What Type of Milk Frother is Best?

Which coffee maker can I use with a milk frother?

You can use whichever coffee machine you have in the kitchen cupboard. An espresso machine would be ideal but you can also use a filter or capsule machine if you wish. However, I really would recommend an espresso maker.

An AeroPress is a great way to make coffee

If you don’t have one or don’t want to splash out on what can be an expensive bit of kit, I would heartily recommend an AeroPress. This is my single brew coffee maker of choice and while it doesn’t dispense genuine espresso it makes a really good ‘espresso style’ coffee which is excellent as a base for cappuccino or to drink on its own.

At just over £30 it’s great value for money. Read more: AeroPress Coffee Maker Review.

What about coffee?

One of my bugbears is when someone says a machine makes lousy coffee yet they’re cheap grounds from the supermarket’s bargain shelf. It doesn’t matter how good a coffee machine is, and how well you foam the milk, a cappuccino made with poor quality coffee is going to taste yuk.

Use a decent blend of coffee and combined with a milk frother you’ll be frothy coffee heaven.

Is milk important?

I always recommend using full-fat or semi-skimmed milk. Full fat froths best though semi-skimmed is also excellent for making foam. All of which is no use whatsoever if your vegetarian or vegan.

But there are a range of barista plant-based milks which are excellent for foaming. Standard vegan milk can also be used but the quality and density of the foam will be far less.

What about all-in-one (barista style) coffee machines?

Now we’re talking about a whole different ball game. Costing hundreds of pounds, barista style machines like the Sage Barista Touch are mini versions of the machines you see in Starbucks. They include grinder, portafilter, espresso maker and a steam wand (milk frother).

Expensive to buy, great fun to use, but, essentially, they perform the same function as your coffee maker and milk frother. They brew a coffee base and heat and foam milk.

If you can afford a bean-to-cup coffee machine, buy the best you can. But if you can’t – an AeroPress and handheld milk frother will set you back just over £50 and turn out fantastic cups of frothy coffee.

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handheld milk frother in jug with cappuccino