Learn about the milk before you start

The majority of coffee beverages prepared worldwide are milk based. The choice of milk for your coffee beverage is just as important as the type of beans that you chose to make the drink. Not all types of milk foams or steams at the same time and with the same results. Therefore, the overall satisfaction of your milk based coffee beverage will be dependent on how well

you or the barista at your local coffee shop have steamed, frothed, and poured the milk. The pouring of the milk has a lot to do with the final presentation of the beverage.

There are several different types of milk available for you to choose from when making your coffee drink. The type of milk you choose to use in your coffee beverage will have a major impact on the outcome of the drink’s taste, flavor and texture. Milk that is higher in fat contents will give a more robust texture and balanced flavor, while milk with

lower fat contents will produce a lot more foam but will have less stability than milk with higher fat contents.

What does it mean when people say steamed milk, frothed milk or milk foam?


The liquid portion of milk when steaming usually sits at the bottom of the milk pitcher; it is typically heavier than microfoam milk and is used in flat white coffee beverages. It is a great sweetener for drip coffee and instant coffee drinks. The liquid is sufficient enough to add high flavor to a coffee beverage that does not require plenty froth or microfoam.

Steamed milk

It is important to have steamed milk for many types of coffee beverages, including latte and flat white. Milk that is properly steamed will be filled with microfoam and evenly textured. This is due to the fact that when steaming milk, some air is introduced to the milk while it is being stretched and spun at high speeds. While the milk is being steamed, emphasis should also be placed into getting the milk to develop a level of consistency in the microfoam throughout. This consistency will be achieved by

allowing the milk to roll inside the milk pitcher to evenly distribute the microfoam.

The main purpose to steam milk is to achieve maximum sweetness from the milk. When the milk is at certain temperatures (an optimal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit), the milk proteins begin to loosen up and simple sugars in the milk (lactose) will begin to expand, giving the milk a much sweeter taste that will greatly complement any coffee beverage. It is important for an individual or a barista steaming the milk

to know when it is at its optimal temperature. They have a small window of between 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit to work with before this sweetness is lost and is replaced by bitterness due to scalding.

Frothed milk

Properly frothed milk will create a harmony of flavor for your coffee beverages. Although foamed milk is not as sweet as steamed milk, it is much more aerated, stiffer and is better suited for coffee drinks that desire more frothy topping, like a cappuccino. Adding

frothed milk in coffee beverages increases the overall great sensory experience of your coffee beverage, by allowing you to have a much smoother drink. You can either choose to have cold frothed milk or hot frothed milk with your coffee beverage. Even with a bad coffee brew, adding frothed milk to your coffee will improve the overall taste of the coffee.


Microfoam is created by introducing very tiny bubbles that are incorporated into the milk as it is being steamed of

frothed. The process begins when air is introduced into the milk with a steam wand and manual or electric milk frothers. Properly done microfoam resembles wet paint and has great taste and a creamy mouthfeel.

Difference between froth and steamed milk

Steamed, foamed or frothed milk are used in coffee beverages to improve the quality and taste of your coffee drink. The items that are needed to produce steamed and frothed milk are the same to a certain extent but the procedures are different. Frothed and steamed milk are used in different types of coffee and milk based beverages.

Steamed milk is much heavier than frothed milk because it does not have as much froth and has less air. Less milk is

required when you are frothing. The volume of the milk in the pitcher is normally three or four times the amount that you started out with when frothing.

Preparing Steamed Milk

There are four ways in which you can steam milk for your coffee beverages. You can either steam milk on the stove, in the microwave, in automatic electric milk frother or by using the steam wand on an espresso machine. The steam wand will give the best results when steaming milk, but if you decide to use this method, you have town

milk when steaming to prevent the milk from getting too hot too soon, and therefore get better results. It should take you anywhere from 20 seconds to a minute to steam the milk; this depends of the procedure taken to produce the milk.

Tips for Steaming Milk

Having an espresso thermometer on hand when steaming milk can help you to get the best from your steamed milk.

Between 150 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit the milk will be full of lactose giving it a sweet, delicious taste. When the milk temperature gets to or passes 160 degrees Fahrenheit mark, it will quickly begin to lose this sweetness and delicious taste.

If you are planning to steam milk to between 150 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit, you should stop steaming when the temperature of the milk reaches between 135 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature of the milk will continue to rise for a little when steaming milk.

When using an espresso machine to steam milk, you should tilt the pitcher slightly and hold it steadily to allow the milk to roll. This will allow the milk and foam to mix together to achieve smoothness.

Preparing Frothed Milk

The process of frothing milk is similar to that of steaming milk, with one exception

– the milk has to be more aerated.

You may choose to either manually froth milk with a handheld electric frother, manual frother or with a steam wand, or you can chose to automatically froth milk with an automatic electric milk frother. At the end of frothing, the milk should have a nice even texture. The steam wand and the automatic electric

frothers will produce better results when frothing milk for your beverages.

To froth milk with the steam wand, the

tip of the wand has to be positioned near the surface of the milk to continuously add air to the milk as it expands (this process is known as stretching the milk). As the milk expands, the pitcher has to be lowered so the tip of the wand remains just below the surface of the milk. You may have difficulty accomplishing this step if you are new to frothing milk with the steam wand.

Tips for Frothing Milk

Always start the frothing process with cold or chilled milk. Colder milk will give better results and more foam.

You should also consider the type of milk that you are going to use. Non- fat and skimmed milk froth very easily, but not as flavorful as other milk types. Whole milk produces great tasting froth, but whole milk is much heavier due to fat in milk and it is harder to achieve the perfect froth. 2% milk froths nicely and has great flavor.

The ideal temperature for frothed milk is 140 -155 degrees Fahrenheit. Place thermometer inside the milk when frothing and pay close attention to the temperature of the milk.

When using the steam wand to steam or froth the milk, you must always purge the wand before preparing the milk.

The main difference between frothed and steamed milk is the amount of air injected into the milk when it is being produced. The frothed and steamed milk are used with different coffee beverages

to enhance their taste.


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