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How do you froth milk?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Do you need some special equipment to be able to froth milk? Any workarounds to do it without any special equipment? Thanks!

post #2 of 19

Years ago I had a nifty thing for just that.  It was a cork stopper with a bent tube inserted in it.  You put the stopper in a kettle and the tube in your milk and the steam did the work.  Simple, inexpensive, brilliant.

post #3 of 19

There are four basic types of frothers.  Plunger, rotary beater, countertops which use one sort of spinning technology or another, and steam. 

 

Blowing off steam for the moment, the most common non-steamer type are plungers.  They were pioneered by Bodum but now there are a few decent, less expensive brands.  You can find them at Amazon, BB&B, WS, SLT, etc.  The little battery-powered whip, rotaries are also inexpensive and work about equally well and are also sold ubiquitously.  The prices for either type run between $20 and $40.  These types make for a very stiff, dry, meringue like foam.

 

Breville makes the best of the countertop spinners.  It costs around $125.  It heats to a desired temperature and makes a better quality foam then the plungers or whips, but in the greater scheme thing of things Breville's better is still not very good. 

 

I froth milk using my espresso machine's steam wand.  Steam gives the best, silkiest micro-foam.  While it's the only way to get really good results, it's also the most expensive, most difficult to learn and most persnickety to use.  FF, you're welcome to come over for coffee sometime and see how it's done.

 

Good luck,

BDL

post #4 of 19

To tell you the truth I have a great machine with a steam wand but I more often then not simply heat the milk up in the microwave and then use my 20.00 areo latte from William Sonoma and just froth it that way. Certainly not for a coffee snob but it works just fine for me. 

 

A great video on how to froth/steam milk is from Chris's Coffee.

 

Thanks,

Nicko 
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post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

Great, thanks Mike9 for the suggestion, and thank you BDL for the exhaustive review - and for the invitation! smile.gif

 

So Mike9 that thing you mention sounds like it would be inexpensive and probably would work better than the inexpensive non-steam options BDL is describing (and those are the ones I had my eyes on). However after a bit of googling I couldn't find anything resembling a kettle attachment like the one you describe... any idea who made it or where to find it? 

 

Thanks!

 

EDIT: Thanks Nicko, great to have a 3rd opinion. This is for a gift that is not for a real coffee connoisseur, so that might just work. 

post #6 of 19

Skimmed milk produce the best foam when using an espresso machine.

post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kippers View Post

Skimmed milk produce the best foam when using an espresso machine.


No.  Not true.

 

BDL

post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post


No.  Not true.

 

BDL

Have you tested the various milk in the UK and Europe?

post #9 of 19
post #10 of 19

Skim milk produces a foam ,but not a healthy one, it does ot hold up.    Any steam appaatus will froth milk . I tried a stam clean hand held machine. That even works.

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #11 of 19

Geez - I bought that back in the 80's in NYC and gave it to a friend when I moved up north.  Can't be hard to make one if you measure your tea kettle and get an appropriate size plug that has a hole in it for a metal tube.  I should make another one to see.

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kippers View Post

Skimmed milk produce the best foam when using an espresso machine.

 

 

Yeah I would have to disagree with that one. Everything I have tested and read shows that whole milk is the best. Has more fat so it creates a more silky micro foam in my opinion.

Thanks,

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post #13 of 19

Skimmed milk is easier to foam than regular, hence the best moniker bestowed by lots of people. Doesn't necessarily ring true for all of us though for reasons such as the ones posted by Nicko.

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post #14 of 19

The other part of this is the coffee simply is not as rich with skim milk. Can honestly say I have never been to a cafe in Italy and had them steam my cappucino with skim milk. When it comes to coffee I trust the Italians. lol.gif

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post #15 of 19

As always:  It all depends on what you're trying to do, and what levels of quality you consider acceptable and/or desirable.  Please understand, I don't want to demean anyone else's experience.

 

Just to be clear, I'm talking about high quality (significantly better than Starbucks') microfoam for coffee milk drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes.  While I can produce a very stiff, long lasting foam that can be heaped on top of a drink and will stay there, not only is that not the goal, it's usually an artifact of poor technique and something to be avoided.  In the ordinary sense of extraordinary espresso, good foam is never scooped out of the pitcher with a foam. 

 

The article Kippers posted said "easier" not better.  I've never frothed milk in the UK or Europe, but I've taken barista classes from people who have -- Scottie Callaghan and Heather Perry, both World Champion baristas -- and while frothing was covered extensively and in detail in both classes, neither mentioned that milk performed differently there than here in the States. 

 

On this planet, frothing milk is all about fat content, how the fat is distributed, and freshness.  Here in the US of A milk is available in five different levels of fat content (0% "Skim"; 1% "Low Fat"; 2%;"Reduced Fat, 3.25% - 4% "Whole"; and +4% "Rich").   Because of their very high protein to fat ratios, skim and low fat milks make for a very hard, meringue-like foam with large bubbles which will hold up for a long time.  That's all very well and good, but it's not the sort of foam you want for coffee drinks -- whether lattes or cappuccinos. 

 

Additionally, Mike's tea kettle with tube apparatus cannot produce sufficiently dry, hot, and pressurized steam to froth milk of appropriate texture, nor can it froth milk quickly enough so that it won't "cheese."  

 

Just to close the circle, it's worth restating that sufficiency depends on what you're trying to do.  If Mike and Kippers like what they get, no one can say they're doing anything wrong... least of all me.

 

This morning I made my wife's latte with 2%.  It was okay for latte art, but not ideal; there were a few open surface bubbles.  I suppose, you might call it "not bad" for a cappuccino or macchiato.

 

If you like, we can get into the techniques of foaming milk, and the differences between latte, latte art, and cappuccino milk, but that's a lot of information for a post. 

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/19/12 at 11:54am
post #16 of 19
Microfoam is where it's at for me. Silky textured

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post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 

Wow thanks again for all the additional comments. Who knew so much could go into foaming a bit of milk to put on top of your morning coffee. 

post #18 of 19

At work we have an Espresso machine from Italy. I think the name is Saeco. It has 2 options for frothing milk. It has the wand apparatus but also a milk island.

It's a separate attachment whereby I place a special container filled with milk over the plate and the steam comes up through the bottom of the glass container and froths the milk that way.

Pretty cool but still not as efficient as the wand action.

post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicko View Post

The other part of this is the coffee simply is not as rich with skim milk. Can honestly say I have never been to a cafe in Italy and had them steam my cappucino with skim milk. When it comes to coffee I trust the Italians. lol.gif

In the  cafe's in the town next to the family holiday home in Tuscany I have never heard anyone order a cappucino it tends to be a macciatto with either hot or cold milk.I trust Italians for other things

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2105339/Laura-Maggi-Le-Cafe-Busty-barmaid-serves-drinks-skimpy-outfits.html

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