Manual milk frothers are easy to use, produce great foam and are very uncomplicated appliances. If you’re a lover of frothy coffee you’ll want one of these frothers in your kitchen. But how do you use them and what are the insider tips on getting the best from your frother? We explain all in our top 10 tips.
Let’s just dive straight in.
1. Don’t plunge too hard
To get a good froth you need to be quite vigorous when you work the plunger. But don’t overdo it. Reading some comments about manual frothers you’d think you have to be an olympic athlete to use one.
When you work the plunger yes be brisk but don’t go nuts. One of the downsides of manual frothers is that the plunger can be quite delicate. They can break if not used correctly. But use a smooth frothing action and you’ll have no worries about damaging the plunger.
2. Experiment with your plunging
Depending on the milk and its temperature it should only take around 30 seconds to make a thick foam. However, this will vary and depending on the beverage you’re preparing you may not want such a thick froth.
Practice really does make perfect so experiment with different frothing times. Some users prefer to count the number of strokes, but I prefer to judge by time.
And, it’s one of those things when you’ll soon be able to judge instinctively when you’ve reached optimum froth. But just remember point one above and don’t be too heavy handed when frothing.
3. Use whole milk
The type of milk you use in the frother really does make a big difference to the texture and quality of the foam you make.
Without getting into the science the fats and protein in whole milk break down when frothed to create a bubbly foam. The less fats the less the milk will foam. Semi-skimmed has half the fat of whole milk and skimmed has virtually no fat at all.
If you want a thick and creamy foam you must use whole milk. If you’re vegan you can use barista blend plant based milks which also give a really good froth.
4. Don’t overfill the frother
This one is important. The golden rule to remember is that when you froth milk the liquid will double in volume. Pour 200ml of milk into your frother and it will become 400ml after frothing. If you begin with too much milk you may end up with a mess at worst and flat un-frothed milk at best.
Your milk frother will have measurements marked on the inside. Most will have a maximum fill line as well. If you don’t go above that line you’ll be fine.
5. Make sure you seal the spout
Once you’ve filled your frother with milk and replaced the lid make sure the spout is sealed. You do this by turning the lid to block the spout. Doing this will ensure no milk flies out of the spout while you’re frothing.
Not all manual milk frothers have this functionality. But the better quality ones such as the Bodum Latteo do have this simple but effective safeguard.
But, confession time, I have to admit I don’t always practice what I preach. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve forgotten to seal the spout only to have milk erupt out of the frother like a geyser.
But, if you can, try and remember to seal the spout every time before you start frothing.
6. Keep a firm grip
I’ve seen some videos from manufacturers where the people using the frother use the plunger while holding the handle of the frother. Don’t do this.
When you use the plunger keep a firm grip on the top of the frother with your other hand. Apply downward pressure to keep the device stable while you’re frothing. If you don’t do this the frother is liable to fall over. And that won’t be good news for anyone.
Even when filled with milk these frothers are fairly light and will be unstable when you start to use the plunger. So you do need to make sure you hold the appliance steady while you are using it.
7. Don’t over froth
I guess this comes back to the point about practicing different timings when you use your frother. It’s really cool when you see the foam start to form and it’s always tempting to carry on frothing. But do be careful.
If you froth too much your milk will become way too thick. You’ll be well on your way to making butter. Or you’ll be left with just foam and no milk. Either way you want to avoid that.
So, don’t get carried away. It will only take 20 – 30 seconds to create the thick foam you need for frothy coffees.
8. Don’t overheat the milk
For most frothy coffees you’ll want to use warm milk. This is because warm milk foams better and the bubbles last longer than cold milk.
To use heated milk with your manual milk frother you have a couple of options. A few of the glass models can be popped into the microwave so you can heat the milk that way. There are also stovetop models which, as the name suggests, you can put on the stove to heat the milk.
However, most of these frothers are made from stainless steel. These of course can’t be put into the microwave. You’ll either have to heat the milk in a saucepan or use another glass jug in the microwave and decant the warm milk into your frother.
Whichever method you use to warm your milk make sure you don’t overheat it. When using the microwave you may have to experiment to find the optimum time. You’re looking for a temperature ao between 65-70 degrees. Depending on your oven the sweet spot will be somewhere between 40 and 100 seconds.
Be careful not to burn the milk as it will turn bitter and spoil your coffee.
9. Get yourself a good milk thermometer
Building on point 8 a good thermometer will ensure your milk is exactly the right temperature for frothing.
Thermometers are very simple devices with a stem for inserting into the milk and a dial to indicate the temperature. There’s no mechanics involved so they are cheap to make and inexpensive to buy. But that said the quality of the thermometers you can buy do vary quite widely.
Because they are so inexpensive it’s well worth getting the best rather than saving a few quid and getting an inferior device that will fail after a few uses.
The good news is that even the very best thermometers cost well under a tenner. The one I use is by Andrew James. It has a long stem and clips onto your milk jug. It’s easy to use and very reliable. I highly recommend this thermometer.
10. Give your frother a good clean
Do make sure you clean your frother after each use. This can be tedious of course but the good news is that a quick rinse and wipe is usually all you need to get the frother ready for action again.
If you don’t clean it, milk residue and mould will soon build up. This will affect the taste of the milk going forward. So just take a few seconds after making your coffee to clean your frother and it’ll give great service day after day.
Looking for a new manual milk frother?
As you’re reading this article on tips for using a manual frother you’ve either just purchased one or are thinking about getting a new one.
If you’re shopping around we’ve rounded up three of the best frothers we’ve seen in the table below. There are of course dozens to choose from but these are one we’d recommend you begin to look at.
You’ll find a brief summary of each below the table.
Judge milk frother
This is the perfect gadget for everything from hot chocolates and mochas to lattes, cappuccinos, and iced coffees. It’s easy to use too. Fill with milk, put it on heat for 2-5 minutes on the hob then make the froth with the plunger on the lid. You’ll be whipping up beautiful foamy milk in just 30 seconds.
The stainless steel jug offers durability against everyday wear and tear. The Judge milk frother comes with a 25 year guarantee so you can be reassured that the manufacturers believe in its reliability. Made of premium brushed stainless steel this frother will fit in with any kitchen setting whilst doing a comparable job to the best electric milk frothers.Check the latest price on Amazon
It’s time to step up your coffee game. Sometimes it feels like we’re always subjecting ourselves to the horrors of reheated quality sludge, which is why we need a frothy coffee every now and then. Or more often.
The Bodum Latteo manual milk frother will change the way you drink coffee forever with its sturdy handle, silky plastic lid for steamy protection, and 0.25 litres means you can make your own foamy coffee without having to buy an expensive cappuccino from some fancy café each morning. All this in a dishwasher safe borosilicate glass pitcher.
The Latteo produces a silky-smooth frothy foam and because it’s made from thermal resistant glass you can pop it in the microwave to heat your milk. With this tool on hand you’ll be able to recreate lattes, cappuccinos, iced coffees and much more with ease.Check the latest price on Amazon
Lychee milk frother
With this niffy little appliance you won’t need to spend too much time frothing your milk. With a few simple plunges of the handle, you can get perfect foam every time. The handy, sturdy grip makes it easy for anyone to use this frother with ease.This versatile appliance will deliver you creamy foam that works in coffee, cappuccinos, or lattes! Made from durable materials and easy to use for all coffee-lovers out there, so go ahead and treat yourself.
With its double-mesh screen, this pump makes quick work of any milk or cream for an easy to use product that creates wonderful fluffy foam. And cleanup? Easiest thing ever. Simply rinse with running water after each use. When all you want is that thick, creamy froth for your morning cappuccino give the Lychee milk frother a try.Check the latest price on Amazon
This article contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure notice for further information.