What is the difference between frothed and steamed milk?

Is there a difference between frothed and steamed milk? The terms are used more or less interchangeably. But yes there is a difference. And there is also a difference in how the two types of prepared milk are used. Baristas used frothed milk for cappuccino but steamed for latte. The rest of us probably use frothed milk for most of our ‘fancy’ coffees.

What is steamed milk?

As per the name, this milk is made from a steaming process. The process of steaming milk makes it a little bit airy and creates a thin layer of foam that is known as micro foam. This is perfect for latte and flat white coffees.

What is frothed milk?

Frothed milk is made using an aeration process, with the aim of making the milk airy and foamy. The aeration process of frothed milk is more intense, unlike that of steamed milk, which gives the milk a creamy, airy texture. The foam is dense and luxurious and is perfect for cappuccino.

Differences in preparation

Steamed milk, as mentioned above, is prepared differently from frothed milk. In the world of coffee, frothed milk is often known to be “dry”. The main reason why frothed milk is referred to as “dry” is simply that it is foamy, less watery, and it does not go through a process of steaming, unlike steamed milk.

As far as preparation is concerned, one of the key differences to note is that when making frothed milk, you can use hot or cold milk. On the other hand, you can only use cold milk when making steamed milk.

Most automatic milk frothers will be able to heat or steam milk and barista coffee machines will have a steam function built in.

How to make frothed milk

As mentioned above, frothed milk is created by adding some air to it. The more air you are able to add to the milk, the frothier it will be, creating a richer texture. There are various ways of making frothed milk at home, and the easiest is using a handheld frother. Such devices are portable, more compact, and battery-operated.


When making frothed milk on a larger scale, you might want to use an electric or automatic frother, which is operated just by the push of a button.

How to make steamed milk

Steamed milk, unlike frothed milk, is always hot and a little bit more watery. Steamed milk also has a thinner layer of foam that baristas like to refer to as “microfoam”. To steam milk, you will need a steam wand.

You are required to place the wand slightly underneath the surface of the milk. Take caution not to place the wand to deep inside the milk.

 latte steaming and frothing milk milk frother wand

The other option for steaming milk is to use an electric milk steamer. Since the process of steaming milk involves the use of pressurised steam, the density of the milk will not change, so you don’t have to worry about that.

Steamed milk, unlike frothed milk, has a noticeable more reflective shine, when poured into a cup.

The difference between frothed and steamed milk

The differences between steamed and frothed milk mean that each one of these two types of milk is better suited for usage in certain ways and not others. Here is a closer look at the way each one of these types of milk is used.

Popular drinks made with steamed milk

There are different kinds of espresso and coffee drinks that are made using steamed milk. The most popular beverage that requires steamed milk as an ingredient is caffe latte. This beverage is comprised of one-third of espresso, two-thirds of steamed milk, and one cm of foam.

Popular drinks made with frothed milk

cappuccino hot milk from milk frother

Cappuccino is the most popular drink that requires frothed milk as an ingredient. This drink is made up of one-third espresso, one-third milk, and one-third foam. Frothed milk also makes good, hot chocolate and mochas, thanks to the foamy tops and a creamy finish. It is also renowned for being a good topping option for both hot and cold drinks since it improves the texture quality and taste of a drink.

Final word

Now you know the main differences between steamed milk and frothed milk. Even though both these kinds of milk can be made at home, steamed milk is a little bit more difficult to make compared to frothed milk.

Many people however, claim that drinks made using these two types of milk don’t have that much of a difference in taste, and as such, you use the kind of milk that you are most comfortable with making.

You may also be interested in:  Buyers Guide    Frother Reviews    Veletiser Review    Milk Boss

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