Say, you love the creamy topping on your cappuccino cups and wish to be able to do it by yourself at home. As a newbie, you may find frothing milk intimidating and that only trained barista can get the texture and latte art right. Don’t be worry: the technique is not difficult and you will soon learn through the trial and error process. Here are useful tips to help you start making your own delicious milk froth:


1. Having the right tools


Having the right tool is absolutely important for getting your job done. Different frothing techniques require different tools.

The first tool that comes into mind is a milk frother. A milk frother is designed to froth milk, like a waffle maker designed to make waffle. The easiest way to froth milk is using an electric milk frother, which is automatic, convenient and efficient. With this appliance, basically you don’t need any other tools. It has a stainless housing and two wands for steaming and frothing; plus it normally comes with thermo-control features.

To froth milk by hand, you need the following tool:

  • A stainless steel pitcher or a glass jug (about 14-24 oz): stay away from plastic material and don’t choose a pitcher that is too small because milk will expand during the steaming/frothing process.
  • A needle thermometer: temperature is an important factor for froth quality so you will need it to keep a close watch on milk temperature.
  • Microwave or oven to heat milk before frothing.


2. Getting the right type of milk and temperature

 temperature control

Different types of milk will produce different froth quality. As a beginner, you will find that non-fat or skimmed milk is very easy to froth with large foam bubbles. Depending on whether you want to make lattes or cappuccinos, you should choose the following types of milk:

  • For cappuccinos: 2% milk or whole milk. With 2% milk, you get a better creamy taste than non-fat milk. Whole milk is maybe more difficult to froth but it produces a rich taste.
  • For lattes: you have more choice here for steaming milk: non-fat milk, 2% milk, whole milk, lactose free milk, organic milk.

Whatever type of milk you choose, it must be cold and fresh. The colder and fresher the milk, the better output you get and the easier it is to froth or steam. That being said, you don’t need ice cold milk. When you need to use milk for frothing or steaming, take it from the refrigerator and start using it right away. To get the best foam, you should use milk within 5 days of purchase to make sure it is fresh and bacteria-free.


A thermometer is put in the jug to make sure that milk reaches the desired temperature and not above the burning point. Different milks have different boiling but in general you should not let milk temperature exceed 160°F. At 170-175°F, milk will definitely start to burn. It takes practice to find out what is the best temperature for your milk taste but the ideal temperature should be around 150-155°F.The electric milk frother has a programmable thermostat that can help to control the temperature automatically.


3. Choosing the frothing technique


In general, you have three options for frothing milk: two requires manual efforts and one is automatic.


3. 1. Using a wand/whisk or plunger


If you use the plunger, pour milk into the carafe and pump the plunger up and down quickly with force for about 30 seconds. You should see quite a good mount of froth with large bubbles; however, they look kinda loose and not steamy. Then, microwave the carafe (without the plunger) for 25-30 seconds.

When you want to use frothing wand, you need to heat milk first before frothing. It takes about 30 second to heat milk in the microwave. You can also heat milk cup in the oven until you see steam rising from the milk. After that, you put the wand/whisk into the milk and keep twirling until you get the amount of foam you need. It should be done as follows:

  • For the initial stage: Keep the tip of the wand hover just at the milk surface for the first few seconds (10-20s, depending on the type of milk) to generate a good amount of foam.
  • After the temperature reaches 100F, lower the wand into the milk. As the froth rises up, move the wand lower so that the foam won’t be burnt. Angle the wand and stir the milk around it in a fast circular motion.
  • Stop when you reach around 155°F. You should have a creamy, thick texture of frothed milk that fill nearly the whole jug by then.


3.2 Using a glass jar

 glass jar

This method is quite similar to the one above, except that you need no wand or plunger.

Pour milk into a glass jar but make sure milk fills less than half of the jar because we need enough space for froth. Put the tight lid on the glass jar and shake it as hard as you can for about 30 second or when you see frothy milk that nearly doubles in size. After that, remove the lid and microwave the jar for about 30 seconds. You should stop when you see steam rising from the milk with foam on top.


3.3 Using the electric milk frother

 electric milk frother

It is very simple: you select the appropriate whisk for frothing milk, and then pour milk into the jug (below the max level). Select the hot froth option and turn on the “start” button. When milk reaches the pre-set temperature after 1-4 minutes, the appliance will automatically turn off.