What is a Frother and Why You Need It

milk froth

If you want to add some texture to your coffee or any beverage you enjoy, a milk frother can give you milk with thicker foam. This is even especially true if you enjoy lattes and cappuccinos. A frothed milk can also be a great alternative to whipped cream!

Frother

A frother simply turns cold or hot milk into thicker foam by creating air bubbles. This is then added to coffees and other desserts. Basically, there are two types of frothers: hand- and electric-powered. A typical frother has a container or a beaker to hold the lid and a foaming or frothing mechanism with small fans to foam your milk.

What is frothing for?

white ceramic cup with coffee

A frothed milk adds a beautiful and appetizing layer to your drink. It makes your cup richer and more enjoyable to consume. Keep in mind that skim milk froths better as compared to full fat milk. Skim milk gives bubblier and thicker foam. But, a frother works with just about any type of milk. 

Adding frothed milk to your drink gives it a creamy extra dimension on top. Frothing truly is a quick way to make any drink interesting. Some beverages you can use a frother with are:

  • Espresso coffee 
  • Chai tea latte with foam topper
  • Frothed vanilla milk
  • Pumpkin latte
  • Hot cocoa 

Reasons why you should buy a milk frother

  1. Upgrades standard drinks

You’d be surprised on how a layer of foamed milk can create a whole new experience! It definitely adds joy in every sip without breaking a sweat, especially if you own an electric-powered frother.

  1. Cafe experience at home

Having a frother means getting to enjoy a barista-like cup of coffee at the comfort of your home. Frothing on your own takes a whole less effort than driving out to buy some coffee from your favorite coffee shop. Plus, it saves you money too!

  1. Easy to use

Whether you use a handheld or an electric-powered frother, we assure you that they are really easy to operate. It’s a fuss-free tool that upgrades your drink tremendously.

  1. Coffee art

Frothed milk can serve as your canvas when you want to learn how to do some coffee art. Simply whip up a thick foamy layer and use it as your base!

  1. Traditional coffee

Cappuccinos, macchiatos, and lattes are traditionally known to have a foamy top later.

Frothed milk vs. steamed milk

person holding black and white plastic container

A lot of people do not actually know the difference between steamed and frothed milk since both can give a foamy layer. However, they have their differences.

With steamed milk, a machine, one that comes in an espresso machine, heats water up into a steam and forces it into the liquid in the vessel. This speeds up the movement of the molecules. On the other hand, frothed milk is produced by forcing air into the milk to create bubbles, and ultimately, the foam. 

How do frothers work?

Handheld frother

This type of frother requires you to spin a whisk at a fast speed. Do so in a container filled up with milk. Take note that batteries are needed for these to work. Simply stop once your preferred consistency has been reached. Since the milk thickens as it froths, it’s best to use a big pitcher to avoid spillage. 

Manual frother

With manual frothers, labor of love is real. Pour milk into a jug and move the plunger up and down manually. This pumping motion pushes air into the liquid to create a foam. 

Electric frother

Typically, this device houses several disks. Some variants also have a wire whisk which is detachable in events when you just want to heat milk without the foam. Other work via induction heating which gives off even heat distribution. There are actually a handful of models in the market and the more features a frother has, the more expensive it will be. There are those that can even froth cold! Sounds fun!

Frothers

Espresso machine frothing wands

espresso machine

Some espresso machines come in with an automatic frothing wand, like the Breville espresso machines. Usually, the wands also warm the milk as it froths. This is great for a quick cup of cappuccino!

Electric milk frothers

breville milk cafe electric frother o

Electric milk frothers are exactly as the term implies. These are frothers that require electrical power. This type has the most variants because devices can be as advanced as they can be. Some models though require a few minutes before heating up so consider that if you don’t have the luxury of time. There are simpler variants too that just come individually with a base charger to give it power. Obviously, electric frothers are pricier than other types.

Pros

  • Hands-free
  • Multifunctional
  • Easy to operate
  • Convenient
  • Doesn’t burn milk

Cons

  • Pricier than others
  • Can be loud

Handheld milk frothers

Aerolatte handheld milk frother

We can say that this is the most common type you’ll find in a lot of homes. These are simple, cheap, and are only operated by hand. It comes in a wand with a whisk at one end. The majority are battery-operated. Check out Aerolatte handheld milk frother review.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to use
  • Can froth in both hot and cold
  • Can froth small amount off milk

Cons

  • May have limited temperature control
  • Some may not be durable
  • Doesn’t heat up milk
  • Longer frothing duration
  • Runs out of battery rather quickly
  • May be messy

Manual milk frothers

HIC Milk Creamer Frother Cappuccino Coffee Foam Pitcher with Handle and Lid, Stainless Steel, 14-Ounce Capacity

Manual frothers, like the HIC milk frother, typically come with a carafe and a lid. It pretty much works as a coffee press. A plunger with a mesh screen at the bottom enters the carafe through a hole in the lid. You have to pump the handle up and down and then the mesh screen will foam up your milk. It takes around half a minute to thicken the volume twice of its original form. You can even place them on a stove while operating which is why they are also called stovetop frothers.

Pros

  • No battery and electricity requirement
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Easy to use
  • Cheap
  • Durable
  • Gives you control with the density

Cons

  • Those that come with small jugs can only do limited milk at a time
  • Longer frothing duration

Frothing without a frother

Yes, you can also froth milk even if you do not have a frother! Here’s how:

  1. Fill the jar with milk no more than a third of it.
  2. Screw the lid tightly.
  3. Shake the jar vigorously until the milk doubles in volume, or until your desired foam density. This usually takes around 30-60 seconds. 
  4. Remove the lid.
  5. Microwave the milk for 30 seconds with no cover. The foam will rise to the top of the milk and the microwave will stabilize it. 
  6. Stop the microwave just before the foam overflows.
  7. Let it settle. 
  8. Keep repeating the process until your milk is warm enough. 

Frothing half and half

Yes, you can froth a half and half the same way you would with regular milk. However, if the milk has too much fat, the protein present will not be able to support the bubbles giving you a flat froth.

Last words

Frothing is a great way to spice up your coffee and it does not take a genius to do so. If I were you, I’d get my hands on a good frother as soon as possible!

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nv-author-image

Self-proclaimed coffee drinker. I would, on a typical day, start my day by grinding my coffee with a manual grinder and use a French Press as a starter (2 cups), then a pour-over in the afternoon (4 cups). I had my fair share as a barista but I prefer to drink it, not serve it.