There are many ways to froth milk and it’s really easy to waste your money on a particular type of milk frother that is not suitable for your needs. The best milk frothers allow you to effortlessly recreate the velvety smooth, creamy texture that you would normally only find in one of the high street coffee shops.
Costa or Starbucks milk frothers are integrated into coffee machines that cost thousands of pounds but we will show you how the best milk frothers cost a tiny fraction of that yet if you choose wisely you can recreate the velvety smooth, creamy texture that combines perfectly with a double espresso to produce a Latte, Cappuccino or any coffee drink of your choice.
If you are used to paying £3 for your favourite coffee beverage in one of the high street coffee chains and you can’t help but think that it’s a bit of a ripoff but you are not sure how to replicate the frothiness and silky smoothness then you will be very pleasantly surprised to learn that you don’t need to break the bank to make a coffee that tastes BETTER but will set you back about 30p.
The problem is that there are literally hundreds of different options to choose from and with the huge growth of imports from China there are lots of duds out there that simply do not do the job properly.
So what are the most important things to take into consideration before you buy?
How to choose a milk frother
The two most important factors are how well it can heat your milk and how good it is at producing a nice thick froth.
This may seem obvious but you would be surprised just how many milk frothers do not hit the mark and only produce lukewarm milk and generate a poor amount of froth on each heating cycle.
I have conducted careful research and only recommend frothers that heat milk to 60-65 degrees and do a good job of generating enough froth for at least a couple of cappuccinos in one go.
Milk starts to burn at about 70-75 degrees so you don’t want to be going any higher than that or you will ruin the flavour of the coffee but any lower than 60 degrees and it starts to become not hot enough and so you need to choose one that hits the sweet spot of 60-65 degrees.
What type of milk frother is best?
It depends on the kind of coffee machine that you have. One of the most common pairings for a milk frother is to match it with a coffee machine that takes pods or capsules such as Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, or Tassimo.
If you have or are thinking of buying a Nespresso machine, they will try and persuade you to buy their “aeroccino” milk frother but it’s basically an expensive version of the electric milk frothers that i recommend here so you can save yourself some money by not going for the branded Nespresso milk frother.
You’ll get the biggest savings from an electric milk frother if you use a Dolce Gusto or Tassimo coffee machine because if you use their milk pods for your cappuccino’s or latte’s then you are paying a small fortune for some powdered milk (Dolce Gusto) or liquid milk creamer (Tassimo) and so if you stop buying those and use fresh milk in a milk frother then it will be MUCH cheaper and also taste MUCH better and that equates to a win-win.
Also, did you know that you don’t have to buy the expensive branded pods from Nespresso or Dolce Gusto? There are many compatible coffee pods available for a fraction of the price and taste just as good.
These ones from Amazon are a good example and are excellent value for money:
If you have an espresso machine that uses ground coffee then it will likely have a milk steamer already attached and so you’ll need to use a milk pitcher to heat and froth your milk. Below you will find the most popular ones in the UK.
Maybe you just want to spice up your instant coffee. One of the best ways to do that is to add all milk instead of water and a small amount of milk but the milk will need to be heated and frothed first and our manual milk frother recommendation is perfect for that job.
It also helps if you avoid the cheap and nasty instant coffee that you find in the supermarkets. If you combine some good instant with some creamy, frothy, heated milk it will transform your coffee drinking experience.
You can find more information here on that here:
So depending on the type of coffee machine you have there are basically three kinds of milk frother to give consideration to:
If you are looking to spend the least amount of money possible then you actually don’t need to spend a penny, you just need to have a jar.
Pour in your milk, put the lid on and give it a shake, for a long time……….
Imagine a bartender shaking a cocktail. that’s what you need to do but for about twice or three times as long. Keep checking it as you go and once you get a decent amount of froth then stick it in the microwave for 60 seconds.
It does work ok and you can use this method to maybe spice up a bit of Nescafe instant coffee but if you are wanting to create a proper cup of coffee from espresso then you’ll need to go for something a little more sophisticated and let’s be honest it’s a lot of hard work that can be avoided is you are willing to splash out a few quid.
If you already have a cafetiere then you could use that to froth up some milk. Just add milk and frantically pump the plunger up and down until you start to see something that resembles froth.
Then to heat it up make sure you take the plunger out and anything at all that is metal and put it into the microwave to heat the milk.
If you have stainless steel cafetiere then whatever you do, don’t put it into the microwave or you’ll blow everything up!
If all of that sounds like too much effort and thought then you could choose a low-cost manual milk frother that has been purpose built for the job.
This is the best manual milk frother:
- Microwave safe so as soon as you have frothed your milk it can go straight in to be heated up before pouring over your coffee
- Made of toughened borosilicate glass so it’s durable to the odd knock and will be very long lasting (as long as you don’t drop it on the floor)
- You can get a good grip on the handle and hold it to the worktop whilst plunging to create the froth
- Everything is dishwasher safe so there is nothing wash up (unless you don’t have a dishwasher), just pop the carafe and the plunger straight into the washer and enjoy your coffee
Bodum is a household name and has decades of experience in creating coffee accessories so it’s no wonder that this frother has thousands of positive reviews and has been a best seller for many years.
Made specifically for frothing milk, the mesh filter ensures that you will not be breaking out in a sweat every time you push up and down on the plunger to create the froth. It’s easy to hold and simple to push up and down and within about 30-45 seconds it will be ready to be heated in the microwave.
OK let’s be honest, this is a slightly modified cafetiere ;-). You can use any glass cafetiere for frothing milk, as long as you can remove the glass jug to heat the milk in the microwave.
But the modification Bodum has made may be small, but it’s important. The mesh used for cafetieres is of course intended to separate coffee grounds from the coffee liquid, it’s not intended to froth milk.
What Bodum have done I think is very clever. They’ve made an all glass (except for the plunger) cafetiere essentially, but they’ve modified the mesh to be better for frothing milk, and they’ve modified the position of the plunger in terms of how deep into the jug it goes.
The results are quite impressive, from looking at the customer uploaded images in the Amazon Reviews.
While many of the users who have uploaded photos have produced thick (yet quite glossy looking) foam, it’s possible to make latte art worthy textured milk this way, as Dritan proves below.
These are the best electric milk frothers:
- Hot and cold frothing
- Heats and froth’s milk to 65 degrees
- The jug is made of 304 stainless steel
- The excellent heating element heats milk in 60 seconds
- 2 whisks included – one for milk heating and one for milk heating and frothing
When you come across a brand that you haven’t heard of it can sometimes be difficult to trust because we will all be familiar with buying something cheap that seems like good value only to regret it afterward because it doesn’t live up to expectations or it breaks within a short period of time.
HadinEEon won’t be a brand that is familiar to many people but this particular milk frother has tens of thousands of reviews with the overwhelming majority very positive. It has a beautiful clean design and so if you decide that you like it then can be sure that it is going to deliver the goods from a milk heating and frothing perspective as well.
These kinds of milk frothers are a step up from the manual version above when it comes to convenience. They aerate the milk in a very similar fashion, to a similar degree, but they heat the milk at the same time, saving you the additional step of heating the milk.
You don’t have any control over the amount of foam with this frother, it heats and froths at the same time, so you’ll get milk at around 60-65C, however it comes in terms of froth. If you like your milk foam fairly stiff, for the more old school cappuccino, then you’ll probably be happy with this.
If you’re more like me and you like wetter, more velvety foam that distributes more with the coffee, you’re probably best with one of the manual frothers, or the Miroco frother a bit further on in the post, which has different froth settings.
- Hot and cold milk frothing
- Induction heating
- Removable milk jug
- Choose the temperature for milk heating
- Hot chocolate function using pieces of chocolate
- Excellent milk foam consistency
- Precise barista quality pouring thanks to perfectly shaped Barista spout
This is the Rolls Royce of electric milk frothers. It certainly isn’t the cheapest option but you get what you pay for. The biggest benefit is that you can select the temperature that you want to heat the milk up to.
Not everyone likes a piping hot cup of coffee so you can select either 45, 50, 55, 60, or 65 degrees so it will accommodate everyone in your home no matter how they like to take their coffee.
It uses induction heating as well which is a much more accurate method and longer lasting as well compared to regular heating elements.
Being able to remove the jug completely from the body of the frother is also super convenient from an ease of use and cleaning perspective.
This isn’t a cheap milk frother, and I can see a few benefits over this one vs some of the cheaper milk frothers, in particular the wide range of temperature settings, and the hot chocolate mode which allows it to whip up hot chocolate for you via pieces of your favourite chocolate and milk.
I’m fairly surprised that a frother of this cost doesn’t have more of the way of foam settings though. From what I can gather you have two options, the level of foam that is produced at the standard setting – or for a stiffer foam, run the cold frothing program first, and then hot.
It has a lot of very positive reviews though, including a lot of praise for the quality of the milk texture it produces, and its ability to work with milk alternatives, and ease of cleaning.
- Magnetic whisks that clip in and out easily
- “beeping” notification when your milk is ready so you can get on with making your coffee whilst it’s in action
- Clean modern design
- Froths hot and cold milk
If you were to ask anyone to name a coffee brand the one that most people would probably come up with is Lavazza. These guys have been around since 1895 and are a market leader in the coffee industry so it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about coffee and are a trusted brand.
So if you prefer to stick to a brand you know then this is a very highly rated frother that does what it says on the tin.
This is basically the Lavazza A Modo Mio version of the Nespresso Aeroccino. By the way, did you know Nespresso and Lavazza A Modo Mio were invented by the same guy?
He invented the Nespresso machine, got himself a job in the Nescafe warehouse to get a foot in the door. Eventually worked up to the position that he could pitch the decision-makers. They hated it, though it would destroy sales of instant coffee.
He stuck at it, about 8 years later pitched the CEO of Nescafe Japan, and the rest is history. He then invented what we know as the Lavazza A Modo Mio machines.
It’s a mid-priced milk frother, it comes from a known brand, and it clearly has a lot of happy users from looking at the Amazon reviews. The only negatives I can see are from people who don’t understand what the reviews are for. There are people leaving product reviews berating the supplier for sending them a machine with the wrong plug – that’s not a product review…
- Stunning modern design
- High capacity
- Excellent non-stick coating inside the jug
- 4 heating and frothing settings
Another brand that you won’t have heard of but it’s very highly rated and has a high capacity for milk so you can heat and froth more in one go and it’s really easy to clean due to the high-grade non-stick coating.
One of the main benefits of this frother is that you only need one whisk as it has four settings to accommodate every scenario – 2 types of foam (dense or airy), milk heating, and cold frothing
This is a fairly low priced milk frother, and what impresses me about this one is it has different foam texture settings. The only thing that I think I’d find frustrating about using automatic milk frother like this not being able to have any control over the milk texture, so I’d want one which gives me at least some level of control.
If you do want to have a go at latte art with a frother like this, you’re better off using whole milk, and the lowest foam setting.
You’re also best decanting the foam into a barista milk jug, knocking it on the kitchen worktop or table a few times to knock out big bubbles, then swirling it to better distribute the foam prior to pouring.
- Very cheap!
- Versatile – use as a whisk as well
- Uses batteries so easy to maneuver around the kitchen
This isn’t going to produce the same results as the other automatic milk frothers but if you are on a really tight budget this is a super cheap option that does a reasonable job and can also double up as an egg whisk or mixing things like salad dressings.
My first experience of these little battery powered hand frothers were as a kid when I visited the UK’s first ever IKEA store in the late 80s or early 90s. They seemed to always have them on the way towards the tills, and I seem to remember them being a quid.
The KitchenCraft Le’Xpress is undoubtedly a higher powered and nicer looking version of these early hand frothers, but they’re basically the same thing, and I actually think they’re great!
As with the Bodum manual frother, you have to heat the milk yourself but it gives you some level of control over the texture too – and it’s a super cheap option.
These are the best milk jugs and pitchers:
- Stainless steel
- 600ml capacity
- Dishwasher safe
- Steam to your desired milk temperature
If your coffee machine has a milk steaming wand and you are serious about creating frothed milk the right way then controlling the temperature is crucial and this milk jug has a built-in thermometer so that you can heat your milk just how you like it every time.
Importantly you can make sure that you don’t overheat it and up with nasty burnt tasting coffee. This is great value for money and does the same job as similar higher-priced versions from the likes of Sage
If you’re just getting into the home barista thing, including steaming milk via the steam wand on your coffee machine, grabbing a temp control milk jug is a good idea. Sure, you can get a separate thermometer instead, but it’s just something else to have to buy, clean, and find each time you want to make a cappuccino or latte.
It’s important to know what temp you’re steaming your milk to for a couple of reasons. The main reason, for me, is taste.
After about 65C, you start to burn off the lactose, the natural sugars in milk, and this is why milk heated beyond this starts to taste weird. A flat white, latte, or cappuccino made with almost boiled milk is awful, in my humble opinion.
The other reason is that once you know what your temp preference is, it’s very difficult to know from feeling the side of the milk jug, how hot the milk is. After a while, like me, you’ll be able to tell just from the feel of the jug how hot it is, but I only learned this by using a thermometer.
There’s the Sage temp control jug, which is a very popular jug with a thermometer, and that is a decent jug, I’ve used it – but it’s about three times the price!
- 3 different sizes available
- Stainless steel
- Great spout for trying out your latte art skills
A highly rated basic milk frothing pitcher perfect for frothing and heating to create all your favourite milk-based coffee drinks
This is basically a standard spout barista milk jug, available in three sizes.
It’s fairly inexpensive, so it’s not a bad jug to start out with, but just beware of the super cheap jugs. You can get them cheaper, but I’ve had cheaper milk jugs that have been a bit weird, slightly lob sided, and not great spouts, so not helpful if you’re hoping to learn to free pour latte art.
I have a bit of think for milk jugs ;-), I have a few – but my favourite now is the Motta Europe milk jug, I have the black one, 17 ounces (500 ml).
You may think I’m crazy for spending this kind of money on a milk jug, but they are really decent quality, and although the spout takes some getting used to, once you’ve got the knack they’re really nice to use. They’re the jug of choice for Latte Art master Dritan Alsela.
What drinks can you make with a milk frother?
Most coffee shop favourites start with a single or double espresso, and from there it’s all about the textured milk, or “Foam”.
With a milk frother, and a coffee machine, and a bit of practice, you’ll be able to make your own perfect versions of:
Different people will have a different idea of what cappuccino is, depending on their age, and depending on where they usually get their cappuccino.
More traditional, old school cappuccino consists of a ratio of approx 1:1:1 espresso, hot milk, foam. What this means is half the textured milk is the wetter textured milk that is poured from the jug, and the other half is the thick foam that is spooned on top.
If you’re more accustomed to drinking your cappuccino in third wave, indy coffee shops, then to emulate this style of cappuccino (my personal preference) it’s simply a case of not making the milk foam as stiff. You’re looking for a more velvety microfoam that will merge with the espresso to make one milky-coffee liquid which typically has a small layer of foam poured in a latte art pattern.
Latte art (and it’s called this even on a cappuccino or flat white by the way) is much harder to do than the experts make it look, believe me. I’ve just about got the hang of it now after about 5 years of practice at the time of writing.
Latte is the Italian word for milk, so if you ask for a latte in Italy, don’t be surprised if you end up with a glass of milk ;-).
Latte is made with approx 1:4 espresso to milk ratio, with 3 parts of the milk being hot milk, and 1 part being foam, roughly.
Personally, I wouldn’t worry too much about whether you’re doing this right, just experiment with it, and when you make a latte which you think is the best you’ve ever had, just try to remember what you did. This is the beauty of home espresso, you don’t have to conform to other people’s ideas of what a latte, cappuccino, flat white, etc., should be, just focus on making your perfect coffee and then try to replicate that every time.
I’ve come to the conclusion that no one actually knows what a flat white is ;-). Ask 10 different experts, you’ll get 20 different answers. But again, who cares, you’re making your own flat whites, so find what you think is the perfect flat white and work on replicating that again and again.
In my opinion though, a “standard” flat white, is 1:2 espresso to microfoam.
Notice I say microfoam, there’s no mention of foam. So basically, you just work on producing a much more wet, less stiff foam – you don’t want any spoonable foam, you just want a velvety, glossy foam that will mix really nicely with the espresso.
In addition, of course, you’ll be able to make Latte Macchiato, which basically a latte made by pouring the espresso into the milk so you end up with reversed layers. Cafe Machhiato which is usually a double espresso with a small amount of milk foam poured into the top so that it’s marked with milk (Macchiato is Italian for stained, or marked).
Cortado is a small coffee (around 3-4 ounces or 85 – 120ml) with somewhere along the lines of 1:1.5 – 1:2 espresso/milk, with a very small amount of foam, usually served in what is referred to as a cortado glass. Piccolo is similar in size but a bit more delicate, around 1:2 espresso/milk
Of course, milk is only one part of a good milky, you’ll also need the coffee machine:
One of the great things about milk frothers though, is that they are multi-purpose and are not exclusively for use to make coffee.
Most have a cold frothing mode that makes them brilliant for milkshakes! Of course, you can also make hot chocolate, and the great thing about making hot chocolate with a milk frother is the simplicity. Add milk, press the button to heat and froth.
Can you froth non-dairy milk?
Certain types of milk alternatives are more frothable (is that a word?) than others but all of the milk frothers recommended in this guide are capable of heating non-dairy milk to varying degrees of success.
The most popular types of milk alternatives are Soy, Almond, Rice, Oat, and Cashew and you can expect good results from the milk frothers recommended here.
As a general rule, the more protein non-dairy milk has then the better the milk will “stretch” to produce that nice silky smooth texture that you get with regular milk.
You can check some very specific results with oat milk in my detailed article on frothing with this type of milk alternative:
What Milk is best for frothing?
If you don’t mind dairy milk then full fat is always best and is the kind they use by default in the coffee shops because it produces the best froth and best texture.
The term “full fat” is a little misleading as it only contains about 3-4% fat and is also known as whole milk so unless you are on a calorie-controlled diet and drinking 10 cups of coffee a day there is no real issue with drinking whole milk in your coffee and it will definitely enhance the flavour.
Semi-skimmed is ok as well but I wouldn’t recommend skimmed milk as its hard to froth and well, it doesn’t really have much flavour.
You are now fully equipped to make an informed decision on how to choose the best milk frother for your needs. Happy frothing!
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