Besides being delicious espresso drinks, cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas all have one thing in common – they are made with hot milk. But is steamed or frothed milk used to make these popular coffee drinks, and what’s the difference between the two? If you’re feeling confused about which kind of milk is best to use if you want to make a latte or cappuccino then don’t worry, we’ve got all the information that you need. Keep reading to find out more about what the main differences are between steamed and frothed milk and how they are used in your favorite espresso drinks.
What is Frothed Milk?
If you define frothy in terms of coffee milk, this refers to milk that has been aerated, which includes adding air bubbles. This process of aeration is the process that creates froth or foam. The reason why you froth milk for coffee is to achieve a certain texture. Using a coffee milk frother or coffee aerator will add a creamy and airy mouthfeel to your coffee drinks. Dense and fluffy are two features that you should be looking out for in high-quality milk foam.
Frothed milk is the best milk for cappuccino drinks; you should create cappuccino foam or cappuccino froth to get the right texture for this drink. A cappuccino should be made with one-third foam, and without it, you wouldn’t be able to class the drink as a cappuccino. You can also add froth to cold coffee drinks such as iced cappuccinos to give them more texture and complexity.
To make frothed milk at home for coffee with lots of milk, you can use simple methods. You can use a cappuccino foamer or an air milk frother to achieve frothed milk easily. However, if you do not have any tools like a milk frother, you can use everyday household items like a jar or whisk. Basic milk frothing does not involve heat, so bear in mind that if you want to make hot drinks like cappuccinos or lattes, you will need to heat the milk separately when using these methods.
Does a milk frother heat milk? You can also invest in an electric milk frother that will heat and froth the milk at the same time for you. These usually have temperature settings that you can use to create hot, cold, or warm milk froth.
What is Steamed Milk?
Steamed milk is different to frothed milk as it is always hot. Steamed milk will produce finer and more delicate foam, known as microfoam. The difference between froth and foam in coffee and the difference between latte and cappuccino foam is down to this. Although the word ‘microfoam’ has foam in it, it is very different to the frothy foam that you would expect from a cappuccino. Steaming slightly aerates the milk, which creates small air bubbles, giving it a velvety texture and making the milk heavier.
Does a latte have steamed milk? Steamed milk is an essential component of various different espresso and hot beverages including lattes, mochas, and hot chocolates. The purpose of adding steamed milk is to make the drink smooth and creamy, and the microfoam is used to create latte art. You can make steamed milk using a steam wand, which will usually be included with high-end coffee makers and espresso machines. You can also purchase separate electric milk steamers if you have an espresso machine that does not include one.
What’s the Difference Between Frothed and Steamed Milk?
So, what are the main differences between milk that has been frothed and milk that is steamed? Frothy milk tends to have more volume, with significant amounts of foam. On the other hand, steamed milk is heated and aerated more delicately, which produces small amounts of microfoam. In addition, steamed milk is a more popular choice when it comes to coffee drinks, while frothy milk tends to only be used in specific foam-filled beverages.
- Produces a velvety microfoam
- Delicately aerated
- Always hot
- Produces bubbles that are larger and stiffer
- Much larger amount of foam
- Can be either hot or cold
Not everybody likes the same type of milk foam, and not every coffee drink will require the same method. While both steamed and frothed milk can be used to enhance the appearance and the flavor of the coffee, as you can see there are some crucial differences between the two.
The techniques that are used to steam and froth milk are quite different. Steaming is a process that requires using a steam wand that is kept closer to the surface of the milk at the start, before placing it deeper into the milk or even completely submerging it to stop the aeration. On the other hand, when using a steam wand to froth milk, you should keep the tip of the steam wand closer to the surface for a longer period of time, before dipping it to stop the aeration when necessary.
Differences in Appearance
Steamed milk essentially refers to milk that has been heated and has a thin layer of foam. The foam should be glossy and creamy with small bubbles and will not form any peaks. It is usually used for latte art. In contrast, frothed milk should have a thicker layer of foam that will remain raised once it has been poured over the coffee.
You might be surprised to learn just how different the texture of the same milk can be when you use these different techniques. Due to the deeper aeration and the microfoam formed on the surface, steamed milk has a more silky texture and consistency. On the other hand, frothy milk has a lighter, more airy texture due to the fact that there is more air incorporated into it.
How your frothed or steamed milk will taste will also depend on the type of milk that you use. If you’re using skim, 2%, or whole milk, this will impact the final taste. Whole milk is the best option and tends to taste best as the flavor of the milk develops as it is heated thanks to the sugars in the milk and the breakdown of the fats. However, you can still get good results with steaming or frothing other kinds of milk.
While steamed milk and frothed milk tend to taste the same depending on the type of milk that you use, you will usually notice a slight increase in creaminess and sweetness in steamed milk since there is less air in it, which means that the flavors are not diluted as much as they are with frothed milk.
Steamed milk is mainly used for lattes and similar drinks like mochas. You will probably recognize the process of using steamed milk for a latte if you have ever watched a barista make one for you or watched latte art videos online. On the other hand, frothed milk is mainly used for cappuccinos.
How to Make Steamed Milk
To make steamed milk, you will need to follow some steps that result in the ideal microfoam for your latte. You will need a milk pitcher, a pressured steam wand, and your favorite milk. Start with cold milk, as it will be heated during the process of steaming. Fill the pitcher around two-thirds of the way to leave some room for the milk to expand during the steaming process. Then, open the steam valve to release any water that might have collected in it, before placing it just beneath the surface of the milk. Lean the wand against the spout of your milk pitcher and start the steam. This should create a vortex in the center of the milk. The steaming is complete when the milk temperature is between 140-150 degrees F. Some steam wands are designed to shut off automatically when this temperature is reached, while you’ll need to manually control others with a thermometer. Generally, if the pitcher is too hot to hold comfortably, it’s ready.
How to Make Frothed Milk
Milk that has been frothed perfectly is essential to the perfect cappuccino, and there are several steps that you’ll need to follow if you want to create it. You will need a milk pitcher, steaming wand, and your favorite milk. Whole milk works best, but you can use any milk you like. Fill the pitcher just one-third of the way since the milk will grow in volume a lot during the frothing process. Prepare your steam wand by opening it to get rid of any leftover water and place it around half an inch under the surface of the milk. Lean the wand against the spout and turn on the steam to begin frothing. Note the sound it makes – if you hear a screeching noise, move the pitcher down to place the wand closer to the milk surface. If the milk is expanding too quickly, you can gently move the pitcher up to slow it down. The temperature should not reach more than 160 degrees F. Once you’ve finished frothing, tap the pitcher on the countertop gently to get rid of any large bubbles of air.
Now you know the difference between steamed and frothed milk, you’re ready to start making lattes, cappuccinos, and more milky espresso drinks.