Apparently, 65% of us add milk to our coffee or choose cappuccinos or lattes over espressos or americanos. Yet many of us are still amateurs when it comes to frothing milk at home. We’d rather head down the road and spend over £2 for someone to froth up some milk and artistically pour it into an espresso than do it ourselves. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with that, we all do it, but if you’re interested to find out about the art of the perfect froth, look no further and keep scrolling!
When you’re frothing milk, you will notice that some milk froths really well whereas others don’t want to sing the same tune. This is due to the fats, proteins and sugars in the milk. Being a natural product, the composition of milk fluctuates depending on what the cow has been fed, its breed, and many other factors. It is for these reasons that the better the milk, the better the foam. You’re not going to get the same results with value supermarket milk that you will with milk from a farmers’ market.
Heating milk increases its sweetness, but be careful not to overheat it as doing so will leave a horrible skin and change the flavour adversely. Proteins are imperative for frothing milk, they are complex structures but coagulate when heated to high temperatures (somewhere above 70°C). Between 65.5°C and 70°C is ideal. Soya milk has around the same protein content as bovine milk which is why it’s possible to achieve an excellent froth with it. Almond milk is more tricky because it has a quarter of the amount of protein content of bovine and soya milk, but it’s worth a go.
I’m going to start with a few tips for those of you who have a nozzle on your coffee machine. This is certainly the best way of achieving good results, but it’s not foolproof. Use a stainless steel frothing jug which has a beak, it will help with that all-important latte art you’re bound to be attempting at some stage, and a thermometer is also a very helpful for reasons aforementioned.
Always start with a cold jug and cold milk. The colder the better, this way you’ve got longer to play with the milk before it gets up to temperature. Try to only use as much milk as you need, although this can be difficult. Frothing a small amount of milk is tricky because it heats up so rapidly. It’s also hard gauging how much the milk is going to expand while taking into consideration the espresso in the bottom of the cup – it’s something which comes with practice.
The art of frothing is subjective but as a guide, place the nozzle between 1 to 2cm from the surface of the milk. The angle of the arm is going to make a difference too, so if it’s making a bit of a racket, the arm should be further under the surface of the milk. As the milk expands, start to move the nozzle further below the surface until the optimal temperature has been reached. If you’re struggling to get it up to temperature (just under 70C) drop the nozzle to the bottom of the jug.
Once you’ve frothed, tap the jug on your work surface to break up any large bubbles and have some fun swirling the milk up the sides of the jug to further ‘smoothen’ out any bubbles. Remember to blow out the steam arm to get rid of any milk particles left in the element and wipe it down with a clean, damp cloth.
I haven’t. I’d love one and I used to have a frothing wand on a small household coffee machine but this soon broke and never produced the results I could achieve with the nozzles on commercial coffee machines.There are plenty of options out there for people who haven’t got a coffee machine. There are mini-frothers which whisk the milk; they’re small, handy, battery-powered, and you can take them anywhere. There are electric warmers and frothers which will do all the work for you but give you less flexibility over temperature and degree of ‘frothiness.’ And there are hand-pumped frothers which you heat the milk in (either by placing the jug in the microwave or on the stovetop) and then pump using the aerator.Personally, I think the latter option is excellent and I use it every morning. You’re able to control how much air is getting into the milk so that you can create exactly the foam you want and then place it in the dishwasher. Bodum and Bialetti make one and they’re more-or-less indestructible.
I’m off to make a cappuccino….