We break down the best tips from baristas and share our top 12 fave frothers.
There are a lot of kitchen gadgets out there, and some are more useful than others. (Air fryer? Heck yes! Pizza scissors? Errr…probably not.) But if you love lattes, cappuccinos and other warm, steamy beverages, then a milk frother could be a nifty gadget to have on hand at home.
“Milk frothers are great tools for at-home coffee lovers,” says Josiah Hunter, barista and coffee expert at Just Love Coffee Cafe in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.
Want to put your barista skills to the test at home and create a drink that rivals what you could get at your favorite coffee shop? Below, we break down everything you need to know about milk frothers and share 12 that are worth buying.
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How Do Milk Frothers Work?
You might be wondering: What do milk frothers do, exactly, and how do they work? Well, we went straight to a coffee pro for the answer.
“A milk frother is a device that aerates milk and creates a thick yet light foam to be added to various espresso beverages such as lattes, cappuccinos and flat whites,” explains Heather Calatrello, founder of ShedLight Coffee Roasters in San Diego. “The tiny bubbles formed during the aeration process make the milk texture lighter and increase its volume.”
What Type of Milk Frother Is Best?
There are three types of milk frothers on the market: handheld, manual and automatic, says Calatrello. She says they all do a great job of frothing milk —whether cold or hot—so when considering a milk frother, it’s important to look at more than just the quality of the foam created.
“Our favorite style of stand-alone frother is the automatic frother,” says Calatrello. “An automatic milk frother will not only froth the milk and create a luxurious foam, but it will also simultaneously heat the milk (something a handheld wand simply can’t do) at the touch of a button.”
She adds that an automatic milk frother also allows for control over the type of foam and temperature of the milk, something other types of frothers can’t offer. “Nothing beats the results—not to mention convenience and automation—of an automatic milk frother,” says Calatrello.
Of course, that doesn’t mean manual and handheld milk frothers are bad. They have their benefits, too. Just keep in mind they may require a little more work.
“In a manual or handheld electric design, the user must first heat the milk on the stovetop or in the microwave,” explains Calatrello. “This is fine for many, and these types of frothers will often cost less than the automatic design.”
Ronald Miller, barista and owner of the review site My Coffee City, adds that a manual milk frother is the most cost-effective option. While it’s not suited to making large batches at one time, it does work well with smaller portions like single-serving lattes or cappuccinos, he says.
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Do Milk Frothers Work With Cream?
Yep, a milk frother absolutely works with cream. “However, a steam wand or automatic milk frother is best for cream or half and half,” notes Calatrello. “You won’t get the same results from a manual or handheld frother when frothing cream.”
Calatrello says frothed cream will have a luxurious texture but may be too rich for some. She explains that her team prefers whole milk for all-espresso beverages, “as the fat content is just right to create the creamy mouthfeel we’re after without veering too close to the dessert category.”
She adds that frothed cream is a great addition to an after-dinner beverage since the result is quite thick and creamy. “A dollop added to espresso or coffee turns an ordinary beverage into something special,” she says.
Don’t consume dairy? You can use milk alternatives in a milk frother, although they’ll be much thinner and less rich than regular milk, says Hunter. “For texture, the best alternative is probably oat milk,” he adds.
Related: 11 Best Dairy-Free Milk Alternatives
How Do You Use a Milk Frother?
There’s definitely an art to using a milk frother, no matter which type you choose. For automatic milk frothers, it’s best to start with cold, fresh half and half, suggests Calatrello. “Use an automatic milk frother to bring the cream to your preferred temperature without scalding it,” she says.
Meanwhile, Hunter offers these recommendations for using a handheld milk frother: “Place the tip of the frother right in line with the surface of the hot milk and turn it on, then watch as it spins some air bubbles into the liquid for only three seconds before quickly submerging the top of the frother deep into the milk and off to the side,” he says. “After another 45 seconds, the milk should be churned enough to be wonderfully creamy.”
Is It Worth Getting a Milk Frother?
Although it’s not an essential piece of equipment, a milk frother can make your coffee-making experience more enjoyable, says Miller.
“In my opinion, if you’re serious about making coffee at home, a milk frother is definitely worth the investment,” he says. “It may seem like a small thing, but having fresh, evenly-textured milk makes all the difference in the quality of your drink.”
If you already own an espresso machine, keep in mind that most include a steam wand for milk frothing, so a separate milk frother isn’t always necessary, Calatrello points out.
Plus, there are several methods you can use to froth milk without a frother, says Calatrello—although none will yield the effortless results of a milk frother.
One such method to create foam without a frother is to use a French press, says Hunter. “A French-press coffee maker can hack their way to some amazing foam right away,” he says. “Simply heat up some milk, fill the press about halfway full, forcefully push the plunger down into the milk for two to three big pushes, then rapidly pulse the plunger below the surface of the milk for about 15 seconds.”
With all of this in mind, here are the 12 best milk frothers to buy.
Which Is the Best Coffee Frother? Here Are the Best Milk Frothers
Ready to take your coffee drinks to the next level? We’ve rounded up the best milk frothers and milk steamers based on the insights of the experts we interviewed.
1. Breville Milk Cafe Milk Frother, $159.95 on Amazon
This milk frother “is sophisticated enough for the discerning espresso fan, with subtle differences in foam texture, yet straightforward enough for the frothing novice,” says Calatrello. It offers temperature control and allows you to froth cold milk if desired. Plus, it has two separate disks (one for thicker foam and the other for lighter foam), has an auto shut-off feature and is easy to clean. Breville Milk Cafe Milk Frother, $159.95 on Amazon
2. Nespresso Aeroccino3 Milk Frother, $79.99 on Amazon
Looking for a Nespresso milk frother? The Nespresso Aeroccino3, a favorite of Miller’s, gets high marks. Made from stainless steel, it quickly heats up milk with the touch of a button and has an automatic shut-off feature. Nespresso Aeroccino3 Milk Frother, $79.99 on Amazon
3. Subminimal NanoFoamer Handheld Milk Foamer, $39.95 on Amazon
“A popular variety of milk frother on the market right now is the Subminimal NanoFoamer,” says Hunter. “Using this tool, home baristas can enjoy foam that is much closer to the microfoam created at cafes.” This handheld device creates superfine foam, giving milk a rich, velvety texture. Subminimal NanoFoamer Handheld Milk Foamer, $39.95 on Amazon
4. Secura Automatic Milk Frother, $51.98 on Amazon
This four-in-one electric milk steamer does it all. It makes hot foam, cold foam, heats milk and can be used to make hot chocolate. Yum! It holds a lot of liquid and can heat up to 17 ounces of milk or chocolate and foam up to 8.5 ounces of milk so you can whip up drinks for the whole family. Secura Automatic Milk Frother, $51.98 on Amazon
5. Fino Foam Pitcher With Handle and Lid, $23.79 on Amazon
Get frothy milk foam in less than a minute with this stainless steel milk frother. It holds up to 14 ounces of liquid and has an easy-to-grip handle so you can pour with ease. It’s even dishwasher-safe. Fino Foam Pitcher With Handle and Lid, $23.79 on Amazon
6. Bodum Bistro Electric Milk Frother, $29.99 on Amazon
This compact electric milk frother makes foaming up your milk a breeze. Thanks to its heavy-duty motor, it creates thick and creamy foam for all your cappuccinos and lattes. The inside has a non-stick coating for easy clean-up. Bodum Bistro Electric Milk Frother, $29.99 on Amazon
7. Golde Superwhisk USB-Rechargeable Frother, $24 at Golde
A favorite of Miller’s, this handheld, rechargeable milk frother is perfect for on-the-go use. Its slim design means it’s a traveler’s best friend (and it even comes with a cover!). You can use it to whisk coffee, matcha, milk and more for frothy deliciousness. Golde Superwhisk USB-Rechargeable Frother, $24 at Golde
8. Maestri House Milk Frother, $89.99 on Amazon
Larger than most milk frothers and steamers, this option allows you to prepare multiple drinks at once. It has multiple temperature settings as well as different settings for froth thickness so you can easily customize your drink to your liking. It’s also dishwasher-safe. Maestri House Milk Frother, $89.99 on Amazon
9. Bonsenkitchen Handheld Milk Frother, $9.95 on Amazon
For a budget-friendly pick, check out this handheld milk frother that costs less than $10 and comes in a variety of fun colors. Whether you prefer to sip a latte, matcha, or hot cocoa, you can froth it to perfection with this handy, battery-operated tool. Bonsenkitchen Handheld Milk Frother, $9.95 on Amazon
10. Chinya Auomatic Milk Frother, $47.99 on Amazon
This electric milk frother has three modes—hot milk foam, cold milk foam and heated milk—so you can make any coffee drink your heart (and taste buds) desire. It whips milk into foam in less than two minutes flat and has a non-stick interior so you can easily clean away residue after each use. Chinya Auomatic Milk Frother, $47.99 on Amazon
11. Aerolatte Milk Frother, $21.99 on Amazon
Want to froth your drinks on the go? Turn your attention to this handheld, compact milk frother that’s battery-operated so you don’t have to worry about plugging it in. The curved handle, which is flattened on the sides, makes for an ultra-comfortable grip. Bonus: You can even use it to foam garnishes for soups! Aerolatte Milk Frother, $21.99 on Amazon
12. AEVO Milk Frothing Machine, $64.99 on Amazon
With its magnetic frothing lid and aluminum pitcher, this automatic milk frother does an excellent job of heating and foaming milk quickly. There are four modes to choose from so you can make the perfect latte, macchiato or hot chocolate with just the touch of a button. AEVO Milk Frothing Machine, $64.99 on Amazon
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