The barista is desperate for a dense, long-lasting froth to add texture, brightness, and flavour to the milk. And to achieve the perfect froth, we must inject air into the milk to create micro-bubbles.
If the bubbles we create in the milk are the right size, combined with the right temperature and the natural properties of the milk, we will achieve unbeatable lattes or cappuccinos.
The traditional way to create frothed milk is by using an espresso machine with a built-in steam wand. However, most coffee lovers do not own such machines, and many who own an espresso machine prefer froth milk more simply; by using a milk frother.
What is the best milk frother for you?
All milk frothers have the same mission; to froth milk. However, they do not all work in the same way or achieve the same results.
There are different types of frothers, which can be classified into three main groups:
- Manual milk frothers
- Hand-held electric milk frothers
- Automatic milk frothers
To find out which milk frother is best for you, we will look at different features throughout this article to help you choose the best one.
Which is the best milk frother for your budget?
For many people, budget is very important, so knowing how much you are willing to pay for a milk frother is crucial when choosing the best frother for you.
- Manual electric milk frothers are the cheapest of the three types of milk frothers. These types of frothers are manufactured by unknown brands and come from China, costing about £8 to £10.
- For manual milk frothers, we can already find brands such as Bodum or Bialetti, synonymous with quality. These types of frothers cost from £10 to £20 for unknown brands and £20 to £40 for well-known brands.
- Automatic milk frothers are sold in a wide price range depending on performance and brand. The cheapest ones cost around £30, while the most expensive ones cost up to £200.
Which is the best milk frother according to difficulty?
One of the keys to frothing milk correctly with the traditional steam wand method is the milk’s technique and temperature. Now we will see how difficult it is to froth milk with different types of frothers.
- The manual electric frother is relatively difficult to use to get a quality milk froth. To create a good milk foam, you should start by frothing the surface and introducing the wand diagonally until the desired result is achieved.
- The manual frother is even more difficult to use than the manual electric frother. This type of milk frother requires firm movements from top to bottom at the beginning, ending with concentrated oscillation in the centre of the frother.
- Automatic milk frothers require no effort at all, as, with a button, you will have a good milk froth in just one minute.
Which is the best milk frother according to the quality of the froth?
Once we have seen how difficult it is to create milk foam with each type of frother, we must evaluate what results we can obtain.
- With the manual electric frother, the foam you will get will look good and be quite stable, but you will notice a lot of air bubbles.
- With the manual frother, the foam you get is rich, thick, and creamy. Although the foam is very similar to coffee shop foam, you will make a lot of mess to creating it.
- With automatic milk frothers, you will get very different results depending on the type of frother you choose. The cheaper ones offer a foam similar to manual electric frothers, while the higher quality ones offer a more creamy result.
What are the functions of a milk frother?
To froth the milk, we need to inject air and increase its temperature so that the created micro-bubbles remain coexistent for a long time, thanks to the fats and proteins in the different kinds of milk.
In the case of manual frothers and electric manual frothers, we have to be the ones to preheat the milk, which should reach 65ºC approximately. Once the milk is hot, we start the frothing process.
On the other hand, automatic frothers allow us to heat the milk simultaneously as we froth it. Thanks to this automatic heating, we can increase the temperature and add air injection in a very controlled way. If the temperature is raised too high, neither the foam nor the taste will be good.
How much milk can we froth with a milk frother?
The milk frothing capacity is one of the key points when choosing a frother. While manual electric frothers allow us to froth milk for two or three cups at a time, manual and automatic frothers barely allow us to prepare enough milk for one cup.
When buying a manual or automatic frother, look closely at its frothing capacity. Two small cups require a minimum quantity of 130-150ml.
How long does it take to froth milk with a milk frother?
After experimenting with the three types of milk frothers, we have come to a surprising conclusion; at first, you might think that the automatic frothers are the fastest and the manual ones the slowest, but the opposite is true.
To froth milk with the manual and the manual electric frother, you have to wait about 50 seconds until the milk is heated to 65°C in the microwave. Then the manual electric one took more than 1 minute to froth the milk, while the manual one did it in 20 seconds.
As for the automatic one, it took us almost 3 minutes to have the milk frother, although this time can be reduced to a minute and a half if you use a top-quality automatic frother.
Ease of cleaning a milk frother
In terms of ease of cleaning, electric manual milk frothers are by far the best, as just a few seconds under the tap is enough.
Manual frothers, on the other hand, are the dirtiest of all, as they splash a lot during not only the frothing process but also the cleaning process of the frother itself is more laborious.
In the middle ground are the automatic frothers, which require little effort to remove the milk residues.