You will learn five different approaches to frothing milk at home without an espresso machine. When you finish watching you should be able to pick a milk frother that fits your needs and budget. We pick milk frothers that are both cheap and expensive, manual and electric all that you get a good idea of what options are on the market and what is best for you.
5 Milk Frothers in Review
Here are the tools we will use and test sorted by the price from the cheapest to the most expensive. Number one insulated flask or jar with a lid that is used as a shaker. I believe everybody has something like that at home so that’s the most economical option from all.
Number two, handheld electric milk frother or frothing wand. We got ours locally for about 8€ it’s, from Xaxax company, but there shouldn’t be a huge difference between brands. Number three, French Press style milk frother. We have a small milk frother from Bodum, it’s quite pricy you get it for about 30€, but you can find cheaper alternatives from Bodum or other brands.
Number four, cheap electric milk frother. In this category we picked Sencor milk frother that we bought for about 45€. Number five, expensive electric milk frother. We picked Sage or Breville Milk Cafe. It’s perhaps the most advanced and also the most expensive milk frother for home baristas on the market.
We got it for about 150€. Okay, let’s go through all five options one by one so you can watch how easy or difficult is it to make cappuccino, how much time it takes and what’s the quality of the foam.
3 Things to Keep in Mind
Before we get started there are three important things to mention. Number one, coffee. We will not talk about coffee preparation in this video, we’ll use our AeroPress with Prismo attachment this time to brew around 30 milliliters of strong coffee.
Go for your preferred option. Number two, milk. Milk is important, actually there will be mostly milk in your drink so better choose the tasty one. You should pick full fat milk and our choice was a fresh milk from a local farmer.
We used about 150 to 200 milliliters for each method that we heated up to our desired temperature of 60 to 65°C. Number three, milk pitcher. If you want to learn any later our pattern or simply control how you mix milk with coffee in the cup you need to get the milk pitcher.
Let’s start with the low cost option and that’s using a flask or jar that you can cover and use as a shaker. I like to use the insulated flasks that prevent me from burning my fingers. I will start by heating about 150 milliliters of milk in the microwave to about 65°C.
Usually it takes about 45 to 60 seconds. This flask volume is about 330 milliliters, so by pouring 150 milliliters of milk we won’t reach even 50% and leave enough room for shaking and the pressure that builds up inside of the flask.
Then I will shake it for 30 to 45 seconds, swirl and pour it into a milk pitcher. Foam is quite thin with many bubbles. It wasn’t very stable neither. I could perhaps shake much more to generate more foam but it wouldn’t change the overall characteristics. Okay so pros of this method is that there is no extra cost.
Usually you already have the flask at home and it’s really easy technique you just shake. And what about the cons? Well you need to heat the milk first and also it’s the most physically demanding method that we tried. It produced thin and less stable foam and eventually you can burn yourself.
Handheld Milk Frother
Next is a handheld milk frother that is powered by two AA batteries. You can basically just turn it on and off and the motor is of 14000rpm. We were quite skeptical but the results surprised us. We heated the milk in the microwave and then pour it into the milk pitcher.
This milk frother i try to first stretch the milk and create the foam by keeping the frothing spiral close to the surface of the milk. Then i submerge the spiral at an angle to create the whirlpool that mix foam and milk.
It took me a little over a minute to reach my goal. The foam looked good and was quite stable. Its amount depends on the technique, but it wasn’t as creamy and velvety as we would wish. It looked better than it tasted.
There was more air in the form so it reminded us more of a beer foam in our mouth. So, pros of this method. It’s really small and cheap it’s really easy to clean and you have a good control over the frothing process and cons, it takes time to master the technique. You really need to heat up the milk separately and it produces too airy foam texture.
French Press Milk Frother
Frothing milk in a french breast style milk frother is simple but take some time to figure out the right technique. We found a good starting point was about 10 to 20 aggressive presses from the top to bottom and then you continue with another 10 to 20 presses having a plunger submerged in the milk.
It’s quite fast method it took us about a minute to heat the milk to 60°C in a microwave and then about 20 seconds to froth the milk. The downside is that it’s quite messy technique and you will spend more time cleaning.
The foam was great! It was rich thick and really creamy. It was very similar to what we like to drink at the coffee shop. So, what are the pros of this method? It produces rich creamy and stable foam, it’s relatively cheap option and you have also the pouring spout and the cons? Well it’s quite messy and more difficult to clean, it takes time to master the right technique and you need to heat up the milk first.
Cheap Electric Milk Frother
Now we move to the category of electric milk frothers that both heat and froth the milk, you just press the button. The cheaper option is Sencor milk frother that comes with 4 modes. Cool, baby, foam and hot but only 2 modes are suitable for frothing. We tested the foam mode. The volume of milk is quite limited, minimum is 100 milliliters and maximum is 150 milliliters, so it’s basically just one cup of cappuccino or latte.
The hot mode is set to reach about 65°C and for 100 milliliters of cold milk it took us a little over 3 minutes. It produced a lot of foam that was smooth and rich but it was quite unstable and started to break and bubble quite fast Also there was too much foam for latte art drawing, but that could be eventually adjusted.
What are the pros of this method? It produces nice texture of the foam, it heats and froth at the same time and you can get it for a good price. And some cons, it produces perhaps too much foam and too thick for later art. There is a small volume so perhaps you can get only one cup and the machine is quite slow.
Breville/Sage Milk Café
The most advanced and expensive milk frother in this review is Sage Milk Café it allows you to heat and froth 180 to 500 ml of milk that is really up to three cups of cappuccino. You can fully control the temperature starting at the cold steer and then from about 40°C to 80°C.
Still optimal is 60. It comes with two frothing discs that influence the thickness of the foam. One is for latte and one for cappuccino for some reason the latte disk didn’t produce almost any foam for us, so we went for the cappuccino one.
We poured 100ml of milk and it took a little over two minutes to bring it to 60°C It produces solid smooth foam with a good stability. We felt the texture can be even more thick for a proper cappuccino. So what are some pros of this method? Y
ou can heat and froth a big volume of milk. It’s made out of quality and durable material, there are two frothing options and you have a adjustable temperature and what are some cons? Well it’s quite expensive so with a high price and also it’s big size it doesn’t need to fit your kitchen or shelf.
Summary & Suggestions
Okay, let’s sum it up! What does the professional barista think is the best method to reach the coffee shop level of cappuccino at home? When you master the technique I think this Bodum one or this like milk frother, it would be the best option for me, even like time was.
Only downside of this it’s quite messy so but if you like clean afterwards then you have perfect cappuccino and you impressed I think a lot of guests. If you prefer more easy and automatic options at home both electric milk frothers are good choices.
Pick the Sage or Breville Milk Cafe if you like more control and you need to make milk coffee for more than one person on a regular basis. If you are okay with limited options and only one cup at the time Sencor is an okay budget option for you.
If you don’t plan on frothing milk on a regular basis, want to save money and don’t mind learning a new technique then handhold milk frother especially the more powerful one can be a surprisingly good alternative for making cappuccino at home. We wouldn’t really recommend the flask or jar method as a permanent solution, but it’s a good backup solution for special situations.