How does a handheld milk frother work?

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To use a handheld milk frother to make a latte or cappuccino at home, firstly heat the milk in a microwave or on the stove, insert the whisk head of the frother into the milk, then turn on the frother and rotate around the top layer of the milk for around 30 seconds. You’ll then have a thick, rich and creamy foam.

Once you’ve made your foam you add it to espresso or other coffee base to make your frothy latte or cappuccino.

Rest assured the process is as easy as it sounds and with just some coffee beans, a coffee maker, a microwave and a milk frother you can make barista quality coffee at home.

How to use a handheld milk frother

These small whisk-like devices are surprisingly powerful. They are also very effective and very easy to use.

The important thing to remember – and so many first time users get caught out by this – is not to switch it on until you’ve lowered the whisk head into the milk. If you turn on the whisk and then put it into the milk the liquid will fly everywhere including all over you and your kitchen walls.

But that really is the only note of caution here.

You can see how to use a handheld frother in the video below. Following the video is a step-by-step guide to making a cafe style latte at home with your new frother.

Making a frothy coffee with a handheld milk frother

You can’t make a proper latte (or any other frothy coffee) at home without a milk frother. Whether that is a steam wand on a barista style coffee machine or a handheld frother.

We’ll assume as you’re reading this article that you’ll be using a handheld frother – in which case the process is very easy.

All you need, apart from your milk frother, is a coffee maker, milk and a microwave. You’ll also need ground coffee of course – preferably a fine or espresso grind.

1 Make your espresso

Espresso is used as the base for all frothy coffees. Personally I prefer a bigger cup so I always use a double shot (70ml). You don’t have to use ‘genuine’ espresso – any strong coffee will do, but my recommended coffee maker is the AeroPress..

2 Pour your coffee into a mug

Pretty self-explanatory.

3 Heat your milk

The quickest and easiest way to do this is to pour the milk into a glass jug and use the microwave. We explain more in this article.

In around two minutes (appliances will vary) you will have warm milk (65-85 degrees is best).

For the best results use full fat or whole milk. If you’re vegan or vegetarian use barista blend plant based milk. You’ll need around 250-300ml of milk for your latte.

4 Make the foam

Remove the milk from the microwave and leave for around 30 seconds to a minute.

Then, holding the frother like a pen, pop the whisk head into the milk and switch on. Gently revolve the whisk around the milk keeping it in the top layer as the volume of milk increases.

After 30 seconds or so you should have a thick, creamy froth. Gently tap the bottom of the jug against the countertop to settle the milk and leave for 30 seconds to a minute.

5 Add the milk to the coffee base

All you need to do now is add your milk to the mug holding the coffee. Use a spoon to hold back the foam and pour half the milk onto the coffee base. Then spoon the remaining foam into the mug. You’re left with a delicious cup of coffee made with heated milk and thick, textured foam.

Read our AeroPress User’s Guide and Review

Which handheld milk frother is best?

When it comes to choosing your new frother you really are spoilt for choice. There are so many different types and models out there. You can read more about this in our guide: What is a milk frother and FAQs.

But, in this article we’re talking about handheld milk frothers. You still have a great choice but before we look at the best options let’s look at what all handheld models have in common:

Very affordable – even premium models cost less than £20 ($25).
Cheap to run – you just need a couple of batteries.
Easy to use – just click the on switch and away you go.
Powerful – some more than others but you’ll be amazed at how powerful these little devices are.
Easy to store – even the largest models are less than 30cms long.
Versatile – these are essentially mini whisks and can be used for kinds of different tasks in the kitchen.
Quick to clean – just hold the whisk head under running water and wipe the body down the plastic body with a damp cloth.

The best handheld milk frothers

You can buy these devices incredibly cheaply. Ikea famously sells a £1 milk frother. We’ve reviewed that frother but you really should save your money. Don’t be tempted by the very cheap milk frothers. They will only last a few months (if you’re lucky) before they fail.

As I’ve already mentioned the best handheld milk frothers are still very affordable coming in at well under £20 ($25) – even as little as half that price.

My two favourite frothers are the Zulay Milk Boss and the Bonsenkitchen. But I’ve owned and reviewed many different models.

My top four handheld milk frothers can be seen in the table below. Within the table you’ll find links to my individual reviews of each frother.

Brand
Bonsenkitchen
Severin
Zulay Milk Boss
Aerolatte
Bonsenkitchen Electric Milk Frother, Automatic Milk Foam Maker for Coffee, Matcha, Mini Stainless Steel Whisk with Battery, Mixer, Blender, MF8710 (Sliver)
Severin S73590 Hand Milk frother SM 3590, Black
Zulay Original Milk Frother Handheld Foam Maker for Lattes - Whisk Drink Mixer for Coffee, Mini Foamer for Cappuccino, Frappe, Matcha, Hot Chocolate by Milk Boss (Matte Sky Blue)
aerolatte Milk Frother with Storage Tube, Black, Stainless Steel
Overall Rating
4.6
4.5
4.5
4.4
Blending Power
4.6
5.0
4.3
4.4
Ease of Use
4.6
4.9
4.5
4.4
Ease of Cleaning
4.7
4.8
4.5
4.7
Value for Money
4.7
5.0
4.8
4.5
Prime?
-
Brand
Bonsenkitchen
Bonsenkitchen Electric Milk Frother, Automatic Milk Foam Maker for Coffee, Matcha, Mini Stainless Steel Whisk with Battery, Mixer, Blender, MF8710 (Sliver)
Overall Rating
4.6
Blending Power
4.6
Ease of Use
4.6
Ease of Cleaning
4.7
Value for Money
4.7
Prime?
Brand
Severin
Severin S73590 Hand Milk frother SM 3590, Black
Overall Rating
4.5
Blending Power
5.0
Ease of Use
4.9
Ease of Cleaning
4.8
Value for Money
5.0
Prime?
-
Review coming soon
Brand
Zulay Milk Boss
Zulay Original Milk Frother Handheld Foam Maker for Lattes - Whisk Drink Mixer for Coffee, Mini Foamer for Cappuccino, Frappe, Matcha, Hot Chocolate by Milk Boss (Matte Sky Blue)
Overall Rating
4.5
Blending Power
4.3
Ease of Use
4.5
Ease of Cleaning
4.5
Value for Money
4.8
Prime?
Brand
Aerolatte
aerolatte Milk Frother with Storage Tube, Black, Stainless Steel
Overall Rating
4.4
Blending Power
4.4
Ease of Use
4.4
Ease of Cleaning
4.7
Value for Money
4.5
Prime?

My recommended handheld milk frother

If you don’t want to read several reviews let me cut a long story short. Of all the milk frothers I’ve reviewed, only one stands permanently ready for use on my kitchen countertop – and that’s the Zulay Milk Boss.

The Milk Boss all ready for action

Not only is it a super-powerful frother, but it is one of the few that comes with its own stand and the only one that has a lifetime guarantee. To sum up, if you’re looking for a handheld frother I heartily recommend the Zulay Milk Boss..

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