If you’re Italian coffee lover or get steamy over creamy hot chocolate you need a milk frother in your life. But there’s a bewildering number of machines out there. ow do you pick the best one for you? And how do you go about picking a milk frother if you’re not too sure about what they actually do?
Don’t worry – that’s what we’re here for. Welcome to our buyers guide. We’ll discuss exactly what milk frothers are, how to choose the right model and we’ll also look at the best frothers available on the market right now.
But, before looking at the best milk frothers, it’s interesting to look back at how a nation of tea drinkers became fixated with coffee and franchise brands like Costa.
People are often surprised to learn that Costa is a British company. It was founded by a pair of Italian brothers in London in 1971. But it’s fair to say the UK coffee revolution really kicked into gear when the first Starbucks opened its doors in 1998.
Fast forward to the present and the barista culture is firmly established in this country. We love our cappuccinos, flat whites and lattes as much as any New York or Seattle coffee connoisseur.
It’s no surprise that many of us want to recreate our favourite coffee shop drinks in our own home. And the easiest way to do that is with a milk frother.
What is a milk frother?
If you’ve ever been to one of the large franchised coffee chains like Costa or Starbucks then, chances are, you’ve already enjoyed the produce of a milk frother.
A milk frother, as the name suggests, takes cold or hot milk and puts air into it turning the milk into a thick foam. This foam is then used to make the more traditional Italian coffees that we all love such as lattes or cappuccinos.
Types of milk frother
There are three different types of milk frother. You can choose from electric, handheld and manual or stovetop models. These are standalone models but some coffee machines also have milk frothers built in. In this buyers guide though we’ll concern ourselves with the standalone milk frothers.
Electric milk frothers
Electric or automatic frothers work on mains electricity. They are the most popular type of milk frother. There are a huge variety of models to choose from with different specifications but they all provide hands free operation.
Electric milk frothers can be relied on to produce high-quality foam which can make a wide variety of coffees and hot chocolate. If you enjoy regular hot drinks you need an electric milk frother as they can produce foam in volume and operate reliably for long periods.
Best 3 automatic electric milk frothers
Handheld milk frothers
These are great value for money devices. They are cheaper than electric frothers but are only suitable for occasional use. Handheld milk frothers are battery operated and they do a surprisingly good job of foaming milk.
Best 3 handheld milk frothers
Manual or stovetop milk frothers
Probably the least popular type of frother but certainly the most traditional. They are also great value and very effective with many different types of milk. As the name suggests these frothers are placed directly on the hob for a couple of minutes and include a plunger to froth the heated milk. Once the milk is heated the plunger is pumped by hand to create the foam. Some people prefer these frothers as they are very easy to use.
Other types of manual milk frothers work by adding milk into the jug and heating in the microwave. Once the milk is heated the foam is created by pumping the attached whisk.
Best 3 manual or stovetop milk frothers
How do milk frothers work?
Most electric milk frothers work in a broadly similar way and are designed in more or less the same manner. They have a container / carafe / beaker which is used to hold the milk. Most of the containers also have a sealed lid which prevents the foam from escaping when you’re preparing the milk.
The container will have a foaming or frothing mechanism. These can be like small fans or spirals and obviously do the work of foaming the milk for your coffee. Some simply spin to foam the milk while others move up and down in addition to spinning to help reduce the ‘foaming’ time.
The electric foamers are obviously more expensive than hand operated ones, but do come with the convenience that some heat the milk and foam it all in one. This means you can leave it to do its job without intervention.
The hand operated foamers are very affordable and whilst they do not heat the milk you can foam your milk in as little as 30 seconds with some units. This can make them super quick to use. The device looks something like a small whisk which is typically circular. These small foamers use battery power to spin the foaming mechanism while you hold it in a container of milk. See the video below.
They’re not as convenient as the ‘self-contained’ electric foamers but they are certainly much cheaper. They are worth considering if you’re looking at making your own Italian coffees at home but don’t want to lay out on a more expensive, larger, electric milk frother. They can also be used as a whisk for other tasks around the kitchen.
What do milk frothers cost?
Milk frothers for the home can cost from less than £20 for a handheld device to over £300 for those looking for an authentic barista experience. Commercial milk frothers can run to over a thousand pounds.
Generally speaking, you can get a very nice electric milk frother for between £30 and £70 and a handheld device from as little as £6 to £20. A word of warning here.
You may see handheld frothers for sale on eBay and Amazon for 1p plus postage from China. But you do very much get what you pay for. Don’t be tempted. They are a complete waste of time and money.
As with most electrical devices the cheaper they are the less reliable and effective they are. If something looks too good to be true it certainly will be.
What to consider when buying a milk frother
There are an awful lot of milk frothers available. Making the decision on which one to buy can be tricky – especially with such a bewildering number to choose from. But there’s a few things to consider which will help you narrow the choices:
What will you use the frother for?
Seems a pretty silly question. You’re going to make foam for coffee and creamy milk for hot chocolate. Maybe a better way to put it is how will you use your milk frother? Are you a big coffee drinker who will use the device regularly? Do you want a no thrills no fuss frother to save time when getting ready for work in the morning? Do you want the convenience of a hands-off device or are you OK with doing the prep yourself?
If you’re looking for convenience and hands-off operation and drink plenty of coffee an electric milk frother will be the best for you.
If, however, you won’t be using your frother too often and are looking for ease of use with no prep a handheld device could be your frother of choice. Or, if time along with bells and whistles aren’t that important to you a stovetop milk frother could be an option.
But we’ll narrow the options down even further with a couple of other questions to ask yourself. Starting with…
How easy is it to clean?
No one enjoys cleaning. Especially when you’ve just enjoyed a latte. Having to clean the frother after you’ve used it is a real pain. It has to be done of course. But a device that is easy to clean holds a big advantage over those fiddly appliances which need taking apart and can take forever to clean properly.
Some frothers can be easily cleaned by rinsing, others may be placed in a dishwasher. These will be more attractive to own as an electrical device which is hard to clean invariably gets stuck in a cupboard and forgotten about. That’s why we always make a point about discussing how easy a frother is to clean in our reviews.
What’s your budget?
As we mentioned earlier milk frothers do vary widely in price. Cost is always important. But value is more so.
The more features a device has the more the price will rise. No surprise there.
Though perhaps the biggest consideration about price is really about balancing the cost against how often you’ll use the frother.
There’s little point in buying a premium priced milk frother if you’re only going to use it once in a blue moon. Conversely, don’t buy at the lower end of the market if you’re going to use the device regularly. That will be a false economy as you’ll soon be having to buy a replacement device.
Let’s sum up.
Which milk frother should I buy?
If you love your coffee and want a hands-off easy way to regularly make great Italian style coffees you need an automatic electric milk frother.
In a hurry and just want the odd frothy cappuccino? A handheld milk frother is for you.
Don’t mind a bit of faff and just want to savour a frothy coffee? A manual or stovetop milk frother delivers surprisingly good results.
Milk frothers buyers guide – the best devices
All that being said, here are the top 10 best milk frothers (according to sales) this week:
This week’s top 10 selling milk frothers
- The Milk Easy will beep twice to tell you it’s finished.
- Maximum capacity for milk frothing 120 (internal level indicator: foam) ml
- Maximum capacity for milk heating 180 (internal level indicator: milk) ml
- 3 Exquisite Textures: This milk frother prepares three different textures of milk foam (3.9 oz...
- Heat and Froth Milk: Miroco Milk Frother included with 2 whisks ,Provides the perfect foamy...
- Durable and Stylish Design: High-quality stainless steel and non-stick coating interior for...
- INSTANT OOMPH FOR HOT DRINKS: Embrace your inner barista and froth up lattes, mochas and...
- QUICK AND EASY: At the touch of a button, its stainless steel coil whips warm milk or cream...
- VERSATILE: It's not just a coffee frother - use it as a mini electric whisk for egg whites,...
- EASY AND SAFE OPERATION: All programs are controlled by a simple touch button. The LED...
- MULTIFUNCTIONAL MILK FROTHER: Come with a 2-in-1 whisk which serves various functions. Milk...
- NON-STICK INTERIOR, EFFORTLESS CLEANING: Made from food grade non-stick material, nontoxic and...
- TRIPLE FUNCTION MILK FROTHER: Dualit's Milk Frother has three easy to use functions for making...
- FROTH MADE IN MINUTES: This wipe-clean Milk heater and frother takes just two minutes to heat...
- GENEROUS CAPACITY: This Milk Frother and heater has a generous capacity of 500ml after heating;...
- 20 cm Batteries not included
- 0.25 l
- 8 oz
- Made from heat resistant borosilicate glass
- Milk or Foam, Hot or Cold: Indulge in café-style cappuccinos, latte, Macchiato, etc., as well...
- 16.9oz Large Capacity: This detachable milk frother heats up to 16.9oz / 500ml milk for...
- Safe & Durable: Made of high-quality food-grade stainless steel, the jug is reliable for...
- ☕ Coffee Quality at Home: luxurious lattes, cappuccinos, coffee, hot chocolates, macchiatos...
- ☕ Heat and Froth Milk: Milk frother heats up to 240ml (8.1 oz) milk for delicious lattes or...
- ☕ Durable and Stylish Design: High-quality stainless steel and non-stick coating interior for...
- 【4 in 1 Function】YISSVIC milk frother can make warm dense foam, warm airy foam, cold foam...
- 【Large Capacity】The milk frother has a large capactiy, can froth milk up to 5.1 oz/150 ml,...
- 【All in One Whisk】One whisk is suitable for all functions. There is no need to worry about...
Other Buyer’s Guides
This article contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure notice for further information.