If you’re looking for a new milk frother but aren’t sure which type or model you should buy we’ve got you covered. We’ll look at all your options. But when it comes to what milk frother you should buy it depends on your budget, whether you want a hands on or hands off experience and also on which coffee maker you have. And we also cover why you may not actually want to buy a milk frother at all.
Hang on, why wouldn’t I buy a milk frother?
Ok, let’s address this first of all. I admit I’ve been a little disingenuous. When you use a milk frother it is of course in combination with your coffee maker. However, you do have the option of purchasing a barista style coffee machine which has a built-in milk frother or frothing wand as it’s also known.
If you buy one of these coffee makers then you obviously don’t need a separate milk frother. You can read more about barista style coffee machines here.
But, most coffee lovers, myself included, use a combination of an espresso maker with a standalone milk frother. It’s cheaper, easier, and more flexible than an all singing all dancing barista coffee machine.
OK, so what milk frother should I buy?
If you want a quick, no fuss way to froth milk and don’t mind doing a bit of the work yourself a handheld device such as the Zulay Milk Boss or Bonsenkitchen is the best milk frother for you.
They are super easy to use, will make a thick foam in around 30 seconds and are very affordable. We’re talking under £15 ($21) for a frother that will never let you down. The downside is, as you may have guessed, you have to physically use the device to froth the milk you have previously heated on the hob or in the microwave. It’s no hardship and very easy to do as we demonstrate in the video below.
As the name suggests an automatic milk frother does all the work for you. You pour in your milk, select the programme you require (usually hot foam, cold foam and heat milk) and the device with heat and froth the milk for you. Times vary but most automatic frothers will foam your milk in around 1 to 2 minutes.
Automatic frothers do cost more than their handheld counterparts but as kitchen appliances go, they aren’t expensive. Prices do vary between the standard models and the premium products from manufacturers like Severin and you can expect to pay anywhere between £35 – £100 ($48 – $138).
There are many different milk frothers to choose from but the four we’ve mentioned will all do a great job for you. You can read our full reviews on each of the milk frothers we’ve mentioned by following the links in the table below.
What milk frother should I buy at a glance
What is the best value milk frother?
This isn’t as easy a question to answer as it may appear. Value isn’t always about price. Quality, reliability, longevity, versatility and so much more has to be factored into your buying decision. That said though, of course price is a consideration for most of us.
If you’re buying on price then a handheld frother will be the cheapest option. However, do resist the temptation to purchase the very low-cost devices like the Ikea £1 frother which you can read about here.
The Milk Boss and other top of the range handheld frothers are very inexpensive but are really well made and efficient. It’s worth spending a few pounds more for a premium product. But, as we said above, the best handheld milk frothers can be purchased for less than £15 ($21). Which is incredible value for money in anyone’s language.
Which milk frother is best for frothy coffee?
The four appliances we’ve highlighted above will all make great frothy coffee. But if you want to look beyond them there are plenty of others to choose from.
At the top of the page, we mentioned barista coffee machines. If you’ve ever stood in the queue at Starbucks and watched the baristas at work and thought you would like to have a go you need one of these coffee machines. But what does all this have to do with milk frothers?
There is a milk frother or wand built into the machine. If you want to make frothy coffee in the style of Starbucks then you should consider one of these coffee machines / milk frothers. The downside is that they can be very expensive running from hundreds of pounds (or dollars) into the thousands.
The other downside is that because they have so many moving parts some are prone to breakdown. And if one component fails then the machine is useless until it can be repaired.
The upsides are that barista style coffee machines are great fun to use and have everything you need; grinder, tamper, coffee maker and frother are all in one place.
Where a milk frother comes into its own
Having said all that, if you already have a coffee maker, you only need a standalone milk frother. In this article I’ve advised you to stick to either a handheld or an automatic milk frother (I use both – handheld for speed, automatic when I have more time).
However, there are two other types of frother you can buy. Stovetop and manual models are also available. Each has their advantages and disadvantages but basically works the same way.
They froth milk by the user manually pushing and pulling a plunger on the lid of the device. The difference is that with a stovetop model you place it on the hob to heat the milk. This can be a bit of a faff which is why I haven’t recommended these milk frothers to you. Nevertheless, you can see how a manual milk frother works in the video below.
What milk should I use with my frother?
There are so many different types of milk out there it can get kind of confusing. And we all have our favourite with our choices often being made according to our lifestyle.
But the basic rule when it comes to frothing is that the higher the fat in the milk the thicker and more long lasting the foam. The less fat in the milk the less foam your milk frother will produce.
What milk frother should I buy if I’m vegan?
If you’re vegan or have made a lifestyle choice to switch to plant-based milk don’t worry. Although traditional vegan milk won’t froth very well you can use barista blend milk. This is vegan milk which is specially formulated to froth. It tastes just the same, is suitable for vegetarians and produces great froth for your coffee. You should be able to buy this milk from your market or the different blends are readily available online.
What milk frother should I buy if I love hot chocolate?
If you’re a hot chocolate lover you have three options. The first is to buy a dedicated hot chocolate maker like the Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser. It’s specially made to make hot chocolate and does make an amazing drink. The downside is that is all it does. It doesn’t have the versatility of a milk frother.
The second option is our old friend the Severin SM 3587. It has a dedicated hot chocolate function which means it can switch between frothing milk and making hot chocolate by rotating the dial on the front of the appliance. Other milk frothers too have a hot chocolate programme but few work as well as the Severin.
Your third option is to use your milk frother. You can use any to froth the milk to add to chocolate or put chocolate powder into an automatic frother. But the easiest way is to use a handheld milk frother to make your hot chocolate. It’s a very easy and very fast process. We show you how in the video below.
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