What Is the Different Between a Milk Frother and a Steamer?

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Frothed milk and steamed milk are two unique items that are essential to every successful barista company. They are used in a broad variety of espresso and coffee beverages. These two names are often used interchangeably since they have many similarities and are even combined in certain drinks; nonetheless, they are two totally distinct dairy preparations!

Have you been looking for ideas on how to incorporate the coffee shop atmosphere into your own kitchen? There is no need to look any further! Let’s talk about the two most crucial kitchen gadgets of the moment: the milk frother and the milk steamer.

Milk Frothers

Milk frothers work by integrating air into milk, lightening it and adding body to the final coffee beverage. Since frothed milk is aerated but not necessarily heated, it may be used to produce cooled coffee drinks such as iced macchiatos and iced cappuccinos.

There are three primary sorts of machines for frothing milk, and we’ll go through the distinctions between them below.

Types of Milk Frothers and How to Use Them

Handheld Milk Frothers

A handheld milk frother is a tiny, battery-powered wand-style gadget that you control with your hand. The engine drives a little, wiry whisk-like head that you immerse in milk. When you press a button, the head spins quickly, whipping the milk and mixing air into it.

These milk frothers are fantastic for frothing milk on a cup-by-cup basis since they swiftly aerate a tiny quantity of milkthe perfect portion for a sip or two with no leftovers to worry about!

Hand-Pump Milk Frothers

It takes a little more effort to froth milk using a hand-pump frother. This is a manual milk frother, which means it does not include an electrical cable or battery power to assist you fulfill your milk frothing demands.

These machines, which resemble a French press in look and performance, comprise of a chamber inside which a perforated plunger goes up and down. Once you add your milk, the plunging movement froths it by integrating and dispersing air bubbles throughout the liquid.

Despite the added work, the hand-pump milk frother is still one of the finest milk frother alternatives since it enables you to quickly modify the number of servings of foamed milk you make. Since the chambers have a reasonable capacity, you may aerate milk for yourself or a crew.

Automatic Milk Frothers

Automated milk frothers are electric, which means they demand the least amount of work from you but are also the most costly. Pour the milk into the chamber of an automated milk frother, replace the cover, push the button, and voilà! You can drink as much wonderfully frothed milk as you like.

Since the motor can move faster than either human or battery power, these kinds of milk frothers can often make more foam than either the portable or manual choices, making them ideal for producing bigger volumes of frothed milk at a time. Moreover, several models include hot or cold choices and work well with alternative or plant-based milks.

Milk Steamers

A milk steamer, like a milk frother, incorporates air, but the primary difference is that milk steamers also heat the milk with, you guessed it, hot steam! Steamed milk is an essential ingredient in coffee beverages like the latte and the cortado. One of those famous coffee shop noises is the gurgly whooshing sound of steaming milk, a definite indicator you’re going to get a hot, creamy beverage!

There are two primary varieties of steamers, and regardless of whether one is utilized, they function similarly. To heat the milk, each milk steamer contains a steam wand that must be dipped into it. The primary difference between these two kinds of milk steamers is how the steam is produced.

Types of Milk Steamers and How to Use Them

Electric Milk Steamers

off valve, which allows you to keep the steam confined or release it as required. Electric milk steamers are powered by an electrical cable and utilize that power to internally boil water, creating pressure steam. These gadgets use steam wands with on/off switches to transfer the steam from inside the machine to your anxiously waiting pitcher of milk.

The majority of espresso machines come standard with a steaming wand. It is really handy! Since an espresso machine is already highly pressed, it stands to reason that this pressure should also be accessible for the milk steaming process.

Stovetop Milk Steamers

A stovetop milk steamer performs the same functions as an electric milk steamer, but without the need of power. This sort of steamer is a specifically built multi-compartment pot that produces steam when put on a stovetop burner or other heat source. These milk steamers, like the electric kind, include a steam wand that enables steam to be released from the chamber and into the milk. Stovetop milk steamers are less expensive and more portable than large, expensive espresso machines.

How to Use a Milk Steamer

Steaming milk is more complicated than frothing because you can regulate how much heat is poured into your milk and at what pace. Too much heat applied too quickly may easily burn milk and severely impact the overall quality of your beverage! Correct technique will also impart precisely the appropriate amount of aeration, resulting in flawlessly frothy milk with fewer visible air bubbles than when using a milk frother.

Step 1

To begin, it is best to cleanse the steam wand before each usage, just in case there is any remaining milk or water in the nozzle. Just open the valve to enable the wand to emit steam for a few seconds (while keeping the nozzle pointing down and towards the drip tray) and your purge is complete!

Step 2

Place your pitcher of cold milk on top, with the end of the wand slightly below the surface. Switch on the steamer and steam only the top layer of milk for a few seconds. This step is vital for steaming milk because it creates froth inside the milk before it is heated the rest of the way.

Step 3

Next, elevate the pitcher of cooled milk and drop the wand into the milk, tilting the pitcher slightly to produce a swirling effect. This will aid in producing evenly heated milk.

Step 4

Continue to steam and whirlpool the milk until it reaches the appropriate temperature. Ideally, the pitcher should be just warm enough to handle comfortably.

Milk Frother vs. Steamer: FAQ’s

Why Steam Milk for Coffee?

Although there are different methods for warming milk to prepare coffee-based beverages, steaming is often regarded as the finest.

Heating milk brings out its natural sweetness because the lactic sugar is broken down into simple sugars when it heats. The simplest approach to guarantee smooth, consistent heating of the milk is to use a quality milk steamer. If you just heat milk in a saucepan on the stovetop, the milk will have a continual mix of hot and cold regions, putting it at danger of burning and losing taste.

Second, correctly steaming milk is the only method to integrate air throughout the heating process, and as previously said, this air impacts both the final texture and taste of the completed product.

Can You Froth Hot Milk?

We spoke about utilizing different frothers to make cold milk foam, but can you just froth warm milk instead of using a milk steamer? Both yes and no. It’s not ideal since milk absorbs more air while it’s cold, but if you want your foamy milk to be warm and bring out the sweetness, reheat it before foaming!

Remember that neither the taste nor the texture will be as nice as steamed milk, so if you regularly want warm and frothy milk, you may want to invest in a milk steamer, which will achieve both duties.

Milk Frother vs. Milk Steamer: Summary of Key Differences

Let’s go through the fundamental distinctions between a milk frother and a milk steamer.

  • A milk frother creates frothy milk with relatively big bubbles and a light, airy feel. This frothy milk is often used in the top layer of beverages such as cappuccino and macchiato. Most milk frothers merely aerate the milk and do not heat it, resulting in cold foam for topping other coffee drinks.
  • A milk steamer uses pressured steam to heat the milk while also introducing air into the liquid as it swirls. Since the air bubbles in steamed milk are significantly smaller and more uniformly distributed than those in frothed milk, it is often utilized in the body of beverages like lattes! This micro foam adds a rich and velvety feel to steaming milk.

Despite their variations, these two milk preparations have a very comparable impact on the coffee beverages they are poured into, providing that roasty but strong cup of coffee with a much needed punch of light cream!


Is steaming milk the same as frothing?

Although foaming milk uses aeration, steaming milk uses heat. Frothed milk may be cold or hot, but steamed milk is always hot.

What does a milk frother and steamer do?

The milk frother adds air to the milk, creating frothy milk froth from cold milk. The foaming of milk has no effect on the temperature, and the frothed milk foam stays cool. A milk steamer, on the other hand, exposes milk to hot air, which warms it while adding texture.

Do you really need a milk frother?

A milk frother is essential if you want to keep to conventional methods of creating coffee beverages. Cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos, and other beverages are typically created with a coating of froth milk on top (which is different than steamed milk which some of these drinks might also include).

Does Starbucks froth or steam milk?

Simple Milk Steamer: At Starbucks, a standard steamed milk is just steamed 2% milk. The heated milk has a creamy texture and is foamy. Vanilla Crème is made with steamed 2% milk and vanilla syrup. Sweetened whipped cream is on top.

Does steaming milk make it creamy?

Steamed milk is any kind of milk that has been warmed and mildly emulsified by the steam wand of an espresso machine. This procedure, crucially, alters the texture of the milk: The heated steam infuses the milk with small bubbles, making it creamy and smooth.

What is the disadvantage of milk frother?

Employing a manual frother requires you to depend on sources of power other than your own strength. It might be difficult to create a large number of coffee cups at once. But, if your batteries run out or there is a power outage, you will be unable to use your portable or electric frother.

Why would I want a milk frother?

WHAT IS A MILK FROTHER? Milk frothers aerate milk, producing tiny microbubbles that give milk a light and creamy quality while boosting its volume. Different frothing processes produce various types of foam, ranging from silky smooth textures for lattes to frothy foam for cappuccinos.

Why do you steam milk for coffee?

Steaming and foaming milk increases the consistency and quality of your milk while also improving the texture of the coffee.

Are milk steamers worth it?

If you like lattes and cappuccinos but don’t have a sophisticated espresso machine or latte machine with a built-in steam wand, a milk frother is a must-have. They’re a modest addition to your coffee corner, and they’re easy to operate.

Is it better to froth cold milk?

The colder the milk, the better it steams; the fresher the milk, the better it froths. Keep your steaming jug as cold as possible. Milk that is warm, heated, or old will not foam.

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